How pesticides harm bumblebees, video

This video says about itself:

New tracking system could show how pesticides are harming bee colonies

8 November 2018

Experiments with the system suggest that neonicotinoids severely disrupt bumblebee social behavior.

Read more here.


Bees news update

This 2017 video is called BUMBLEBEES – The Secret World of Bees.

From the Unversity of Kent in England, 29 October 2018:

Data collected by Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) volunteers to assess the country’s changing bumblebee populations have been analysed in a new way for the first time at the University of Kent — and show mixed results about their decline, with cause for concern for two species.

Data was analysed for the five commonest species in the BBCT’s BeeWalk dataset. The two rarest species (Early Bumblebee Bombus pratorum and Red-tailed Bumblebee B. lapidarius) out of the five have declined since 2011 while the two commonest ones (Common Carder bumblebee B. pascuorum and Tree Bumblebee B. hypnorum) have increased. The Tree bumblebee, first found in the UK in 2001, has spread rapidly across the country.

Britain’s 25 bumblebee species are some of the nation’s favourite creatures and are also vital for the pollination of crops, garden plants and wildflowers. However, they have suffered huge declines over the past century: two species went extinct in the past 80 years, and eight species are endangered. These species were known to have declined in distribution over the long term but little was known about how bumblebee populations have changed more recently.

Scientific report on this: here.

From the University of Exeter in England, October 29, 2018:

Up to 13% of US beekeepers are in danger of losing their colonies due to pesticides sprayed to contain the Zika virus, new research suggests.

Zika — which can cause severe brain defects in unborn children — is spread by mosquitoes, so the insects are being targeted in the southern US where Zika-carrying mosquito species live. The new research, by the University of Exeter and the University of California, Berkeley, was sparked by a 2016 media report on millions of honeybees killed by Zika spraying. Honeybees are not native to the US and most colonies are kept by beekeepers, who play a key role in agriculture by helping to pollinate crops.

Arizona State University researchers have found that larger tropical stingless bee species fly better in hot conditions than smaller bees do. Larger size may help certain bee species better tolerate high body temperatures. The findings run contrary to the well-established temperature-size “rule”, which suggests that ectotherms — insects that rely on the external environment to control their temperature — are larger in cold climates and smaller in hot ones. The research will be presented today at the American Physiological Society’s (APS) Comparative Physiology: Complexity and Integration conference in New Orleans: here.

Austrian jailed for killing bees

This 2011 video from the USA says about itself:

How can honeybees communicate the locations of new food sources? Austrian biologist, Karl Von Frisch, devised an experiment to find out! By pairing the direction of the sun with the flow of gravity, honeybees are able to explain the distant locations of food by dancing. “The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee” details the design of Von Frisch’s famous experiment and explains the precise grammar of the honeybees’ dance language with high quality visualizations.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Austrian fruit grower gets prison term for bee killing

A fruit grower in Austria has been convicted for the death of some 800,000 bees by poisoning with an insecticide. The 47-year-old man received a prison sentence of twelve months, four of which unconditional. He must also pay a compensation of 20,000 euros.

The court in Klagenfurt deems the Austrian guilty of “deliberately damaging the environment”. The man is the chairman of the local fruit growers’ association and was known for his knowledge and experience. According to the judge, the defendant knew very well that he was violating the legislation.

Chemical pesticide

The fruit grower used the insecticide chlorpyrifos, which kills all insects, during the spraying of his fruit trees last May. He sprayed his trees at the time that fruit blossoms attract bees. More than 50 bee colonies died, totaling some 800,000 bees.

In the court two affected beekeepers told how dramatic the bee mortality was. “Before the beehives there was a black mass of dead bees”, one of them testified. The bodies of the dead bees were cramped and bent, he said. These are clear signs of poisoning.

The fruit grower will appeal the verdict.

800,000 dead bees are 800,000 too many. Yet, this Austrian is small fry if one compares to the millions and more millions of bees killed by the fat cats of BayerMonsanto.

Researchers spent months shaking and rattling swarms of thousands of honey bees to better understand how bees collectively collaborate to stabilize structures in the presence of external loads: here.

Sunflower pollen can heal sick bees

This 2014 video is called Honeybee and bumblebee foraging on the same sunflower.

From North Carolina State University in the USA:

Summary: Bees fed a diet of sunflower pollen show dramatically lower rates of infection by two separate pathogens, suggesting medicinal and protective effects for pollinators in peril.

With bee populations in decline, a new study offers hope for a relatively simple mechanism to promote bee health and well-being: providing bees access to sunflowers.

The study, conducted by researchers at North Carolina State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, showed that two different species of bees fed a diet of sunflower pollen had dramatically lower rates of infection by specific pathogens. Bumble bees on the sunflower diet also had generally better colony health than bees fed on diets of other flower pollens.

The study showed that sunflower pollen reduced infection by a particular pathogen (Crithidia bombi) in bumble bees (Bombus impatiens). Sunflower pollen also protected European honey bees (Apis mellifera) from a different pathogen (Nosema ceranae). These pathogens have been implicated in slowing bee colony growth rates and increasing bee death.

The study also showed a deleterious effect, however, as honey bees on the sunflower diet had mortality rates roughly equivalent to honey bees not fed a pollen diet and four times higher than honey bees fed buckwheat pollen. This mortality effect was not observed in bumble bees.

Jonathan Giacomini, a Ph.D. student in applied ecology at NC State and corresponding author of a paper describing the research, said that bees already seem adept at collecting sunflower pollen. Annually, some two million acres in the United States and 10 million acres in Europe are devoted to sunflowers, he said, making sunflower pollen a ready and relevant bee food.

“We’ve tried other monofloral pollens, or pollens coming from one flower, but we seem to have hit the jackpot with sunflower pollen”, said co-senior author Rebecca Irwin, a professor of applied ecology at NC State. “None of the others we’ve studied have had this consistent positive effect on bumble bee health.”

Sunflower pollen is low in protein and some amino acids, so it should not be considered as a standalone meal for bee populations, Irwin said. “But sunflower could be a good addition to a diverse wildflower population for bees”, she said, especially generalists like bumble bees and honey bees.

The NC State researchers are now planning to follow up on the study to examine whether other species of bees show the positive effects of sunflower pollen and to gauge the mechanism behind the mostly positive effects of sunflower pollen.

“We don’t know if sunflower pollen is helping the host bees fight off pathogens or if sunflower pollen does something to the pathogens”, Irwin said. Future research is aimed at figuring this out.

Common carder bees mating

This July 2018 video shows two common carder bees mating.

Anja Barendrecht in the Netherlands made this video.

The Brazilian stingless bee Tetragonisca angustula (jataí in Portuguese) deploys a different strategy for defending its nests from other social insect species. In addition to posting sentinels at the nest entrance, as do most social insects, colonies of this species also have guards that hover near the entrance all the time: here.