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Archive for May, 2010

Bumblebees’ distinctive black and yellow “warning” colours may not be what protects them from flying predators researchers have found.

Toxic or venomous animals, like bumblebees, are often brightly coloured to tell would-be predators to keep away. However scientists at Royal Holloway, University of London and Queen Mary, University of London have found a bumblebee’s defence could extend further than its distinctive colour pattern and may indeed be linked to their characteristic shape, flight pattern or buzzing sound. The study is published in the Journal of Zoology.

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ScienceDaily

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Saving the Bumblebee‘ – A 30 minute film about their plight by Jamie-Lee Loughlin. Thoroughly recommended!

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Scientists from the US, Turkey, Switzerland and Iran describe the nest of an uncommon solitary bee

In a rare coincidence, researchers working in both Turkey and Iran discovered on the same day how a rare species of bee builds its underground nests. The females from the solitary species Osima (Ozbekosima) avoseta line the nest’s brood chambers with petals of pink, yellow, blue, and purple flowers. The chambers provide nutrients for the larvae to grow and mature and protect the next generation as they wait out the winter. The new research was published this February in American Museum Novitates.

A closed brood cell of Osima avosetta. J.G. Rozen

“It was absolute synchronicity that we all discovered this uncommon behavior on the same day,” says Jerome Rozen, curator in the Division of Invertebrate Zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. Rozen and colleagues were working near Antalya, Turkey while another group of researchers were in the field in Fars Province, Iran. “I’m very proud of the fact that so many authors contributed to this paper.”

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EurekaAlert.

Rozen, J.G. et al. 2010. Nests, petal usage, floral preferences, and immatures of Osmia (Ozbekosmia) avosetta (Megachilidae, Megachilinae, Osmiini), including biological comparisons with other osmiine bees. (American Museum novitates, no. 3680).

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The world may be on the brink of biological disaster after news that a third of US bee colonies did not survive the winter

Disturbing evidence that honeybees are in terminal decline has emerged from the United States where, for the fourth year in a row, more than a third of colonies have failed to survive the winter.

The decline of the country’s estimated 2.4 million beehives began in 2006, when a phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD) led to the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of colonies. Since then more than three million colonies in the US and billions of honeybees worldwide have died and scientists are no nearer to knowing what is causing the catastrophic fall in numbers.

The number of managed honeybee colonies in the US fell by 33.8% last winter, according to the annual survey by the Apiary Inspectors of America and the US government’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

The collapse in the global honeybee population is a major threat to crops. It is estimated that a third of everything we eat depends upon honeybee pollination, which means that bees contribute some £26bn to the global economy.

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Guardian/Observer.

*sigh* Why is it that such articles continue to attribute pollination to honeybees alone? If they did their research they’d discover that are over 20,000 other species of bee, not to mention countless other inverterates responsible for pollination. The only difference between here in the UK and US is many of the US growing areas are virtual monocultures with little room for native plants and their pollinators that would also service the flowering crops.

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