Tag: pollinators

Neonicotinoid pesticide stifles bumblebee egg-laying

Pollinators in peril

Can bumblebees survive the onslaught of pesticides? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Exposure to systemic neonicotinoid pesticides causes queen bumblebees to lay 26 percent fewer eggs. That rate of decline could result in the extinction of some wild bumblebee populations, according to researchers at the University of Guelph.

Specifically, researcher Nigel Raine studied the impact of thiamoxin, one of the commonly used neonicotinoids, finding that exposure reduces the chances of a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter. Continue reading “Neonicotinoid pesticide stifles bumblebee egg-laying”

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Sunday set: Bugs on blooms

In the woods …

It’s mid-summer, so all the bugs and plant are engaged in their eternal dance of life, with flowers blooming and pollinators doing their thing, all setting the stage for the next act of the play. But as you may or may not know, global warming has thrown many of these cycles out synch. Some of the best long-term research on this topic comes from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Crested Butte, where scientists have shown how the shifting seasons are affecting butterflies and hummingbirds.

And when it comes to climate change, nature is kind of the opposite of Las Vegas. What happens there doesn’t stay there. All of nature is interconnected, so you can be sure that impacts to one part of the ecosystem will ripple through all the other parts eventually. The cycle of blooming plants and pollinating insects is so critical that there is actually a potential threat to food systems for humans. That doesn’t mean that we might not be able to address some of those challenges with technology or other innovations, but that’s bound to be expensive. It’s probably best to try and maintain natural ecosystem functions as best as we can by limiting global warming. And even if we do that right away, we’re still going to see some long-term impacts based on the warming that’s already locked into the climate system.

Is global warming killing bees?

Study finds 15 common bee species suffer as temps rise

A common bumblebee visits a garden in Vienna, Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The urban heat island effect isn’t just bad for people — it’s also harming bees, according to a new study from North Carolina State University.

“We looked at 15 of the most common bee species in southeastern cities and – through fieldwork and labwork – found that increasing temperatures in urban heat islands will have a negative effect on almost all of them,” said associate entomology professor Steve Frank. Continue reading “Is global warming killing bees?”

U.S. beekeepers lost a third of their colonies last year

Experts say more vigilance is paying off, but loss rate still high

Bee pollinating a native mallow species in Lower Austria
Got pollen? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

U.S. beekeepers said they lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017. Rates of both summer and winter losses declined from previous years, with winter losses at the lowest level since the formal survey started in 2007.

The survey asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the nonprofit Bee Informed partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America. Continue reading “U.S. beekeepers lost a third of their colonies last year”

Sunday set: Got bugs?

Polli-nation!

Nature’s diversity is astounding at any level, but when you get down to a bug’s-eye view, it can really blow your mind. When I took the lily photo (with the upside-down bee or wasp) I didn’t  notice the second bug until I looked at the image on a larger screen at home. Curious, I started searching around a little bit and it didn’t take me long to learn that it’s a lily beetle, which is considered a pest in gardens, but is part of the natural environment in the Alps. In any case, plants and insects are completely interdependent, just as all living things are woven together in the global fabric of biodiversity. Respect nature, don’t abuse it.

Sunday set: Global change

Travel a little, learn a lot

This set includes illustrations for some of my most recent stories in various environmental and climate news publications and if you’re a regular Summit Voice reader who is not on Twitter or Instagram, I’m providing a few links here.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how some of Greenlands coastal glaciers already passed passed a climate change tipping point about 20 years ago. Because of the physical processes of snowmelt and runoff, these glaciers are going to disappear even if global greenhouse gas emissions are cut to zero immediately. You can read the story here.

For Pacific Standard, I put together an environmental photo essay on bumblebees, some of the most important pollinators of wildflowers, especially in mountain regions and also in the far north. Bumblebees are important because they are cold-tolerant, so they’re out and about visiting early blooms while other pollinators are dormant. They’ll also fly long distances to visit a single flower. Without them, some species would go extinct. Check out the photo essay here.

You might have seen the recent Summit Voice story on beach erosion and how it’s going to wash away some world famous surf spots along the California coast, and in other areas where coastal strands are ringed by mountains, but if you missed it, you can see it here.

I also wrote about the annual Austrian glacier report for Deutsche Welle, a great global news organization that really does in-depth environmental and climate reporting. You can visit the DW website here, or follow them on Twitter for a daily feed. And my story on the dwindling glaciers is here.

Finally, in a critical story for Colorado and the rest of the West, I reported on how we are losing the war on wildfires and how we need to change our way of thinking about forests and fires in an era of rapid climate change. The story is online at Pacific Standard.

EPA backs away from protecting pollinators

Biologists have been trying to figure out why bee colonies are in decline, and the latest research is pointing directly to pesticides as the main cause. Click the pic to learn more.
Bees are taking a big hit from neonicotinoid pesticides, and the EPA isn’t going to be much help. @bberwyn photo.

Proposed restrictions become voluntary guidelines

Staff Report

Multiple studies have shown that neonicotinoid pesticides are having all sorts of negative impacts on bees, from killing their brain cells, to causing queen bees to lay fewer eggs. Now, the EPA has acknowledged that science, but is still failing to take action to protect critical pollinators, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The nonprofit watchdog group says the EPA is giving in to industry pressure by failing to restrict use of the dangerous pesticides, “despite broad evidence of their well-established role in alarming declines of pollinators.” Continue reading “EPA backs away from protecting pollinators”