Loss of bees causes crop shortage

A Guardian newspaper report:-

“A lack of bees in agricultural areas is limiting the supply of some food crops, a new US-based study has found, suggesting that declines in the pollinators may have serious ramifications for global food security.

Species of wild bees, such as bumblebees, are suffering from a loss of flowering habitat, the use of toxic pesticides and, increasingly, the climate crisis. Managed honeybees, meanwhile, are tended to by beekeepers, but have still been assailed by disease, leading to concerns that the three-quarters of the world’s food crops dependent upon pollinators could falter due to a lack of bees.

Of seven studied crops grown in 13 states across America, five showed evidence that a lack of bees is hampering the amount of food that can be grown, including apples, blueberries and cherries. A total of 131 crop fields were surveyed for bee activity and crop abundance by a coalition of scientists from the US, Canada and Sweden.  …. ”

Read more :-

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/29/bees-food-crops-shortage-study

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2020.0922


 

Making a beeline:-

The Guardian web site:-  “The conservation charity Buglife hopes to help restore and create at least 150,000 hectares of wildflower pathways with the launch on Monday 13th July 20 of its B-lines network for England.

B-Lines are a strategically mapped network of existing and potential wildflower habitats that criss-cross the country. The 3km-wide corridors stretch from the coast to the countryside and towns and cities, covering in total some 48,000 sq km of England….”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/12/making-a-beeline-wildflower-paths-across-uk-could-save-species

In Monmouthshire, B-Lines run from Chepstow up the Wye Valley and also Chepstow, Usk, Abergavenny and Monmouth.

https://www.buglife.org.uk/our-work/b-lines/b-lines-wales/


 

Reversing the Decline of Insects

Reversing the Decline of Insects, commissioned by The Wildlife Trusts as part of their Action for Insects campaign, focuses on some examples of what can be done by everyone to halt and reverse this crisis. From the road verges of Stirling and Kent, to farms in Northern Ireland and Devon, the chalk streams of Wiltshire, and the urban greenspaces of Lambeth and Manchester, we highlight some of the many people and projects that are making a real difference to insects.

We can learn from these successes and, with your help, scale them up and roll them out across the country. We can create a network of insect-friendly habitat to ensure that our grandchildren grow up in a world where the flash of butterflies’ wings, the buzz of bumblebees and the chirp of crickets are all familiar sights and sounds ……………..

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/2020-07/Reversing%20the%20Decline%20of%20Insects%20Report%20-EMBARGO%2008.07.20%20%282%29.pdf

Bees force plants to flower early

New Scientist report:-   “Hungry bumblebees can coax plants into flowering and making pollen up to a month earlier than usual by punching holes in their leaves.

Bees normally come out of hibernation in early spring to feast on the pollen of newly blooming flowers. However, they sometimes emerge too early and find that plants are still flowerless and devoid of pollen, which means the bees starve.

Fortunately, bumblebees have a trick up their sleeves for when this happens. Consuelo De Moraes at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and her colleagues discovered that worker bumblebees can make plants flower earlier than normal by using their mouthparts to pierce small holes in leaves.”

Read more:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2244009-bees-force-plants-to-flower-early-by-cutting-holes-in-their-leaves/

Moths have ‘secret role’ as crucial pollinators

BBC Report:-   “Dr Walton from University College London and colleagues monitored moth activity around ponds in agricultural areas of Norfolk.

They found that 45% of the moths they tested were transporting pollen, which originated from 47 different plant species, including several that were rarely visited by bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

The scientists found that while bumblebees and honeybees are critically important, they tended to target the most prolific nectar and pollen sources. Not so with moths.

“From what we see from our work, moths tend to be generalists, meaning they’re not specifically visiting a narrow group of flowers,” said Dr Walton. … ”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52630991

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0877

Are we witnessing an insect apocalypse?

The New Scientist reports:-

“Are we witnessing an insect apocalypse? It is complicated. The longest running study of insect populations in the world shows that the total mass of moths in Great Britain is double what it was in the 1960s, but has been declining by around 10 per cent a decade since the 1980s. This probably reflects what has happened to other kinds of insects, too. …. ”

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2227154-insect-biomass-in-britain-falling-but-may-still-be-double-1960s-level/#ixzz6Ktbedm2V

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2241413-reports-of-an-insect-apocalypse-are-overblown-but-still-concerning/?utm_source=NSDAY&utm_campaign=2b849f7e58-NSDAY_270420&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1254aaab7a-2b849f7e58-373938547

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6489/417

 

Plant nurseries are in trouble – how to help

Wildlife Gardening Forum have posted the following message on their facebook page:-

Nurseries supplying garden plants are in trouble due to shopping restrictions on our daily life, and that they may have have to dispose of their spring stock. At this time, as long as these nurseries are abiding by Public Health England rules, then it’s good to support them. Many have lost their key routes to market via garden centres and UK horticulture is starting to suffer. We want these places to be there for our pollinators when this has ended!

We’re therefore starting this thread for anyone to share details of the who is doing what and where, ie still operational and available to order from. Please keep coming back to this post and update as the situation progresses, and if you are a nursery owner, please feel free to add a link to your nursery here. To find this post, go to:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/wildlife.gardening.forum/permalink/1142801456067480/

Two citizen science projects

Two Citizen Science Projects :-

OPAL: Nation pollination survey
http://polli-nation.co.uk/activity/survey/

This survey is listed on the FAQ information sheet for the Welsh Government Bee Friendly Action Plan.


The British Trust for Ornithology  “Garden BirdWatch”
https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/gbw

Unlike the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, the BTO survey is a year-round commitment.  You can just record birds if you like, but in recent years the survey has been extended to include other species of particular interest to wildlife researchers, so you can also record the butterflies and bumblebees in your garden,

The BTO are currently offering FREE membership of this survey. They have already had a fantastic response with 2,500 new members, and counting. They feel that the most appropriate way to make Garden BirdWatch accessible to all is to temporarily waive the £17 subscription. Communication with these new joiners will be exclusively electronic, they are increasing the frequency of the GBW e-newsletter to help with this.