Archive for March, 2009

Ecologists in Australia have discovered that cane toads are far more susceptible to being killed and eaten by meat ants than native frogs. Their research – published in the British Ecological Society’s journal Functional Ecology – reveals a chink in the cane toad’s armour that could help control the spread of this alien invasive species in tropical Australia. [Read full article]



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In a mutually beneficial symbiosis, leaf-cutting ants cultivate fungus gardens, providing both a safe home for the fungi and a food source for the ants. But this 50-million-year-old relationship also includes microbes that new research shows could help speed the quest to develop better antibiotics and biofuels. [Read full article]


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With up to 30% of domesticated honeybee and wild bumblebee colonies collapsing in parts of Britain over the last two years, the Government, together with agricultural and food retail businesses, are devising action plans to halt a worrying decline that could have huge implications for the pollination and production of food and the smooth running of the natural world. This report outlines the Government plan, responses from Rowse Honey, the UK’s huge honey producer, and a Conservative MEP; plus action plans being devised by both The Co-operative and the WildCare scheme, a conservation project run by White Gold, a trading division of AB Agri.  [Read full article]

Environment Times online

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Three-year study finds possible alternatives to honey bees

Lanham, MD; March 24, 2009 – Over the past few years, honey bee keepers have experienced problems due to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has hurt honey bee populations, causing some growers of fruits, nuts and vegetables to wonder how their crops will be pollinated in the future. A new study published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America shows that wild bees, which are not affected by CCD, may serve as a pollination alternative. [Read full article]

Entomological Society of America

Note: The full research paper (pdf) is well worth a read. Besides the research conclusions, it demonstrates the methods used for pan trap surveying over a 3 year period, and dealing with sample sizes of 12000+ bees covering 167 species.

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Their brains might be the size of grass seeds, but bees are surprisingly intelligent.

A bee is flying in tight circles around me, closely inspecting my fuchsia-pink coat. It would be a normal Sunday-afternoon-in-the-park experience – except that I am in a roof-top greenhouse in London overlooking Canary Wharf and the Gherkin, and the bee is a fat, black-and-yellow bumblebee with a fluorescent green number nine stuck to her furry back. [Read full article]

Telegraph online

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The following film segment is from the documentary ‘Ants: Nature’s Secret Power’ which I came across on Myrmecos blog.

Anyone know if this documentary happens to be available on DVD (Region 2: UK)?

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I came across the World Bee Checklist Working Group recently, which is a project that aims “to provide a platform for communication, collaboration, and information access relating to the in the development and use of a global checklist of bees (Apoidea)”.

This is part of a larger European Union funded project to promote and integrate programmes of biological taxonomic research: The European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy. Check out the list of similar projects listed in the link.

All the projects are hosted/run with the Scratchpads system.

Interesting stuff!

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