DailyDirt: The Disappearing Bee
from the urls-we-dig-up dept
People usually don’t think too much about how important bees are to the quality of human life. As pollinators, bees play an important role in the survival of crops that depend on them. The mass die-off of bees, also known as “Colony Collapse Disorder,” can have detrimental effects on economies that depend heavily on pollinator-dependent crops. Scientists are just starting to figure out what might be causing these mass die-offs, while others are working on alternatives to using bees for pollination. Here are a few links related to the disappearing bee.
- A new study has found that pollen contaminated with a wide variety of pesticides and fungicides could be responsible for the mass die-offs of bees. Bees that ate contaminated pollen were less able to resist getting infected by a parasite called Nosema ceranae, which has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder. On average, the contaminated pollen contained nine different pesticides and fungicides. [url]
- The once-common-but-now-rare Western bumblebee (Bombus occidentalis) has been spotted in Washington state for the first time since the mid-1990s. This particular bee species has a very unique “white butt” that makes it instantly distinguishable. A queen and a few other bees were also spotted, and they may be the only population of Western bumblebees in the state. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is hoping to conserve and help rebuild the population. [url]
- University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources is looking at using leafcutter bees as an alternative to disappearing honey bees for pollination. While leafcutter bees are more expensive and management intensive, they’re as good as or even better than honey bees at pollinating certain crops, such as alfalfa seed, strawberries, and melons. [url]
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is studying the use of blue orchard bees (aka orchard mason bees) as a replacement for honey bees. Blue orchard bees can pollinate a variety of crops, including almond, peach, plum, cherry, and apple, and they’re extremely efficient. For fruit trees, it takes only 2,000 blue orchard bees to do the work of 100,000 honey bees. [url]
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