Bee pollinates orchid, video


Jean Claessens, the maker of this video, writes about it:

In Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany) I had the chance to observe the pollination of the orchid Spiranthes spiralis by a small solitary bee, Halictus simplex. This bee has an ingenious, articulated tongue that enables this small bee to reach the nectar hidden in the flower of Spiranthes spiralis.

Wild bees in the USA, new research


This video from England says about itself:

Three quick visits to a wild bees‘ nest, ‘discovered’ in Wicken Fen during 2011.

From on Earth magazine in the USA:

Where the Wild Stings Are

For the first time, researchers have mapped wild bee habitat across the United States.

BY Clara Chaisson

30 December 2015

Back in 2014, President Obama released a memorandum calling for assessments of native pollinators and their habitats. “Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honeybees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment,” the president wrote. “The problem is serious and requires immediate attention.” Researchers rose to the occasion, and now, for the first time, we have a map of wild bee habitat across the Lower 48.

We also now have even more reason to worry. Along with the wild bees’ whereabouts, the researchers mapped their declines, finding that populations dropped a stinging 23 percent between 2008 and 2013. Some of the biggest regions of loss were agricultural hot spots like California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Great Plains, western Texas, and the southern Mississippi River valley. Even worse, many of the key crops in these areas, such as pumpkins, peaches, apples, and blueberries, need wild pollinators in order to be their most fruitful.

With more than $3 billion of the U.S. agricultural economy relying on the busywork of native pollinators, we can’t afford to let our bees continue to buzz off.

Students dance like bees, video


This video from the USA says about itself:

Entomology Students Do the Waggle Dance

17 October 2015

During the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America, graduate student Sheena Sidhu asked other students to do the waggle dance, a series of movements done by honey bees to show other bees the location of a good food source.

Caffeine Makes Bees More Likely to Do the Waggle Dance: here.

All the foods we’d miss out on without bees.

Insect films at Rotterdam Wildlife Film Festival


This is a video about dragonflies by Andy Holt from Britain.

At the Wildlife Film Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands will be films on various animals, including insects.

The festival organisers write about this Andy Holt film:

Dragonflies are a colourful and distinctive feature of fresh water habitats. While many of us think of the colourful acrobatic aerial hunter, this is only a small part of a dragonfly’s life-cycle. This 15 minute film charts the dragonfly’s life story and highlights some of the surprising adaptations adopted by different species.

This video is called A Passion of Gold and Fire (trailer) 2015.

The festival organisers write about this film:

A beekeeper shares his worries about the future of his apiary. A passion of gold and fire which definitely helps our environment to keep on living.

This German language video by Dr. Kurt Mündl from Austria is about bumblebees.

The festival organisers write about an English language film by the same filmmaker on the same subject:

They are chubbier, fuzzier and more leisurely than their sisters, the bees. They are a lot less aggressive and awe-inspiring than their cousins, the wasps. Compared to honey bees, these social insects have long been poorly researched, though they‘re at home in temperate regions throughout the Northern Hemisphere and South America.

A few tropical species form colonies lasting several years, but elsewhere only the summer‘s new queens survive into next spring. Macro and high-speed cinematography allow us to witness their behaviour, understand their biology, experience their unique abilities and leave us in awe of these droll little harbingers of spring.

Removing wildlife from crops not helping human health


This video from the USA says about itself:

Clearing wild vegetation doesn’t improve crop health

10 August 2015

In the wake of a 2006 outbreak of E. coli – spread via packaged spinach harvested on a farm in Central California – farmers began clearing wild vegetation around growing fields.

Investigations weren’t able to pinpoint the source of the outbreak, but many placed the blame of wildlife. But new research suggests restructuring the agricultural landscape to minimize wildlife is inadvisable and has no effect on the presence of pathogens like E. coli.

“Wildlife took much of the blame for that outbreak, even though rates of E. coli in wildlife are generally very low,” Daniel Karp, a research fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a press release. “Now, growers are pressured by buyers to implement practices meant to discourage wildlife from approaching fields of produce. This includes clearing bushes, plants and trees that might serve as habitat or food sources for wild animals. Our study found that this practice has not led to the reductions in E. coli and Salmonella that people were hoping for.”

In a new paper in the journal PNAS, Karp and his colleagues posit that wildlife clearing may negatively affect farmland. Research has shown that natural vegetation can help sustain bee populations, vital for pollinating flowering crops.

“There have also been studies that suggest that a landscape with diverse plant life can filter out agrichemical runoff and even bacteria,” said Claire Kremen, a Berkeley professor of environmental science, policy and management. “Changing this dynamic shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Researchers arrived at their conclusions after analyzing more than 250,000 surveys of of crops, irrigation water and local rodents, in which samples were tested for pathogens. The scientists compared test results with land use maps, and found no correlation between pathogens and the presence of wild vegetation.

From Wildlife Extra:

Removing wildlife from US vegetable crops has not cut down on human diseases

A move in the US to safeguard people from digestive diseases in the salad vegetables they eat, by removing wildlife from the fields where they grow has been deemed a failure by a new study made by scientists from the University of California, Berkeley.

It was thought that disease-causing germs came from birds, rabbits and other animals that wander in and near fields where crops are growing.

Keeping animals out of the fields should therefore prevent major outbreaks of illness, was the conclusion drawn and so steps were taken on some farms to limit wildlife’s access to crops.

But a new study finds that fencing out animals and removing their habitat isn’t working. It doesn’t make salad greens less germy.

The findings, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, were striking. Removing wildlife habitat, such as brush, trees and shrubs, did not improve food safety. In fact, it seemed to increase levels of germs, not reduce them.

A major push to keep wildlife out of farms began in 2006. It followed an outbreak of E. coli bacteria that sickened more than 200 people and killed five.

Raw spinach sold and eaten in 26 US states had hosted the germs and investigators eventually traced the bacteria to a farm in California.

There, the same strain of E. coli was found in the soil, water and faeces of both wild pigs and nearby cattle. The natural conclusion was that animal faeces must be behind the spinach contamination.

Under pressure from retailers and customers, farmers began to remove wildlife from their fields. They put up fences to keep deer, pigs and other animals from getting near crops and cleared nearby areas of trees, shrubs and other non-crop plants, leaving behind bare ground.

The changes worried conservation biologists woprking to preserve ecosystems and species threatened or endangered with extinction. One big concern was for pollinators, such as bees.

To prove the efficacy, or otherwise, of the clearance policy, ecologist Daniel Karp and his colleagues examined data collected at a large farming operation over seven years.

During that time, the farmers collected a quarter of a million samples from their produce and biologists tested each sample looking for various strains of E. coli, as well as for Salmonella, which causes nearly one million cases of food poisoning in the US each year.

Sampling for the germs began shortly after the 2006 E. coli outbreak. It continued as farmers evicted wildlife and their habitat from areas in and around crop fields.

This gave Karp and his team the chance to see whether the changes affected levels of disease-causing germs, orpathogens.

The scientists also sampled for these germs in nearby streams and wells, and used aerial surveys to map and measure how much wildlife habitat bordered the farms.

They now report that removing wildlife habitat has not improved food safety. In fact, pathogen levels seem to increase.

This was seen to be particularly true in crop fields located near grazing livestock, which suggests rain water might have washed tainted cow dung onto the nearby fields. Or it might indicate that removing habitat hasn’t had the effect of stopping wild animals from visiting farms.

Karp and his team now recommend adding more wildlife habitat to farms. For instance, they advise planting non-crop barriers between livestock and crops.

These barrier plants, Karp explains, may clean and filter water before it passes into crop fields. Keeping livestock and wildlife away from shared waterways also could limit faecal germs from reaching crops.

Finally, the researchers suggest surrounding crops of salad vegetables that are eaten raw with others that require cooking.

Animals may tend to stay near the edge of a field, the scientists note. This should keep their faeces — and germs — from spreading beyond the outer crops.

Any pathogens that do end up on these outer vegetables would later be killed during cooking.

Extinct bee species back in the Netherlands


Stelis signata, photo by Johann-Christoph Kornmilch

Translated from the Dutch entomologists of EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten:

Monday, September 21st, 2015

After an apparent absence of nearly 40 years, the Stelis signata bee has been seen again in the Netherlands. In the Salland hills this presumably extinct species has been recorded. Spectacular, certainly because the species has never been found before in Overijssel and has previously been seen mainly in North Brabant and Limburg.