Rising heat snuffs out plant fertilization

Pollination is at the heart of a plant's reproductive system, but climate change and rising heat are wreaking havoc on the process, according to FERN's latest story by Carolyn Beans, produced in collaboration with Yale Environment 360. "One point is becoming alarmingly clear to scientists: heat is a pollen killer. Even with adequate water, heat can damage pollen and prevent fertilization in canola and many other crops, including corn, peanuts, and rice," Beans writes.

‘Murder hornet’ nest is found in Northwest for second time

State wildlife officials expect to destroy a nest of the Asian giant hornets in the northwestern corner of Washington State this week, and say "there may still be more" nests of the so-called murder hornet in the area near the Canadian border. It was the second time within a year that a nest of the hornets, a threat to honeybees, was found in Whatcom County.

Wild bees outperform honeybees, but our farms don’t make them welcome

Scientists are discovering that wild bees are far better pollinators than the honeybees that dominate commercial agriculture, according to FERN's latest story, published with HuffPost. But that discovery, which coincides with a worldwide collapse in pollinator numbers, spotlights a "desperate need" for new approaches to farming that work with these wild bees.(No paywall)

Neonic pesticides keep wild bees from laying eggs, says study

Wild bumblebee queens exposed to neonicotinoid pesticides were 26 percent less likely to lay eggs than unexposed queens, says a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

U.S. researchers scour Europe for bee sperm

Researchers at Washington State University are gathering bee sperm from across Europe to try to save American honeybees from the varroa mite — a key factor in colony collapse disorder, says Ryan Bell in FERN’s latest story with NPR’s The Salt.

Study: Neonic coatings on soybean seeds don’t boost yields

A two-year, multi-state study, paid for by soybean check-off funds, found no yield benefit from planting soybean seeds coated with a neonicotinoid insecticide compared to untreated seeds. The study was a joint effort of seven universities in the Plains and Midwest and concluded that, as far as expenses and pest control were concerned, farmers were better off to scout their fields and apply insecticides as needed.

Spring arrives early in the West, confusing pollinators

With wildflowers blooming as many as 12-20 days ahead of long-term averages, spring has officially sprung early in the West, according to maps kept by the USA-National Phenology Network. “The exceptions are high-elevation Western mountains ... where spring is expected to arrive on time, and the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Pacific coast... where gusts of cold Arctic air have delayed spring,” says High Country News using the network’s data.

700 plus wild bee species are dwindling, says study

More than 700 of the 4,000 wild bee species in North America and Hawaii are seeing falling numbers due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and monoculture farming, says the Center for Biological Diversity.

Farms are eating up pollinator habitat, says study

Wild bees are disappearing in the country’s key farmlands from California to the Midwest to the Mississippi Valley, say researchers at the University of Vermont in the first study to map U.S. wild bee populations. The study found a 23-percent decline in wild bees in the contiguous U.S. between 2008 and 2013.