The Importance of Pollinators

Buglife says “One out of every three mouthfuls of our food depends on pollinators. It is almost impossible to over-emphasise the importance of the service pollinators perform for us.

Many plants rely on insects to pollinate their flowers and so complete their reproductive cycle – most plants cannot set seed without being pollinated (receiving the pollen, usually from another flower). Without bees, hoverflies and other insects visiting flowers, there would be no strawberries, apples, avocados, chocolate, cherries, olives, blueberries, carrots, grapes, pumpkins, pears, plums or peanuts…. And very few flowers in our gardens and countryside.

It is estimated that 84% of EU crops (valued at £12.6 billion) and 80% of wildflowers rely on insect pollination…”

https://www.buglife.org.uk/bugs/featured-bugs/pollinators/

Bumblebee Conservation Trust – statement on pesticides

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has published a new evidence-based position statement on the impacts that pesticides can have on bumblebees. We have set out five key recommendations to help policy makers, local authorities, businesses and individuals reduce the negative impacts that pesticides can have on bumblebees and other non-target animals. In most situations this means not using pesticides at all.

A summary of the statement is included below…

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/new-pesticide-position-statement/?

Sixty years after the book that launched environmental movement there is still Government’s inaction on pesticides.

The national charity Buglife says – “The UK Government’s “dither and delay” approach to pesticide policy continues to put the health of our natural world at serious risk, sixty years after author Rachel Carson first sounded the alarm about the hidden harms of these toxic chemicals in her book “Silent Spring”.

On the 60th anniversary of the ground-breaking exposé, experts in The Pesticide Collaboration are calling out the UK Government for failing to adequately protect human health and the environment from pesticides. Since official records began in 1990, the UK has covered over 700 million hectares in pesticides – enough to douse every inch of the UK 14 times over. Meanwhile, pesticides linked to cancer are still routinely used in parks and playgrounds by local councils, up and down the country… “

https://www.buglife.org.uk/news/sixty-years-later-book-that-launched-environmental-movement-exposes-governments-inaction-on-pesticides/

Bumblebees get a buzz out of playing with balls

Guardian newspaper report – “Bumblebees are associated with lives of work rather than play, but researchers have for the first time observed the insects playing with balls for enjoyment, just like humans and dogs.

A team of UK scientists watched bees interacting with inanimate objects as a form of play and said the findings added to growing evidence that their minds are more complex than previously imagined…”

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2022/oct/27/bumblebees-playing-wooden-balls-bees-study?

B-Lines


B-Lines are a UK-wide network of wildflower rich areas for insects and other wildlife. They are being developed by Buglife –

www.buglife.org.uk

New B-Lines are being created in Newport (and Neath Port-Talbot) and there are existing routes though all of Monmouthshire. Pollinators will benefit, including rare species such as the Shrill Carder bee and Long-horned bee which can be found in Monmouthshire.

Silent Earth the Insect Apocalypse

“Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse” Dave Goulson, Aug 2021

In this book Professor Goulson examines the dramatic decline in insects, the vital services they perform, the potential causes and possible solutions.
Insects pollinate three quarters of our crops, recycle dung, leaves and corpses, keep the soil healthy and control pests. Birds and fish rely on insects for food. We cannot function without them yet their decline is estimated as 75% in the past 50 years.
A study of nature reserves in Germany from 1989 to 2016 recorded a 75% fall in weight of insects caught in traps. A 10 year grasslands study showed an average two-thirds loss of weight in the insects, spiders, woodlice etc. Common UK butterfly abundance fell by 46% in 40 years.
There is little worldwide systematic monitoring of insects but the decline of insect eating birds shows the trend. North American insect eating birds have declined by 40% in 47 years with swallows and swifts numbers falling by 70% in 20 years. Similar declines are shown in the very limited studies from Africa, Asia and South America. At what point will there be a catastrophic failure in our environment?
The book reviews causes of the insect decline, habitat loss and fragmentation, pesticides and herbicides, farming practices and climate change. Agricultural change is required to manage these problems plus a change in Western life style and eating choices. This book makes a major contribution to raising awareness.

Rare bumblebee population discovered in Wales

A Bumblebee Conservation Trust report:-

“A population of the very rarely sighted Ruderal bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus) was discovered in Wales this week by staff from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

The Ruderal bumblebee is one of our largest bumblebee species, and is thought to be largely restricted to the south of England, after a considerable decline through the 20th century.

Earlier this week two staff from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust found a number of newly emerged Ruderal bumblebee queens foraging on foxglove near Brechfa in central Carmarthenshire…. “

https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/rare-bumblebee-population-discovered-in-wales/

Glyphosate weedkiller damages wild bee colonies, study reveals

The Guardian newspaper reports:- “The critical ability of wild bumblebees to keep their colonies at the right temperature is seriously damaged by the weedkiller glyphosate, research has revealed.

Glyphosate is the most widely used pesticide in history, intended to kill only plants. The harm to bumblebees – vital pollinators – was not identified in regulatory risk assessments, which only test whether a pesticide rapidly kills healthy, individual bees. However, the collective failure to regulate colony temperature could have a massive impact on its ability to produce the next generation, the scientists said….”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/02/glyphosate-weedkiller-damages-wild-bumblebee-colonies

Plants flowering early affect pollinators

Article in the Conversation web site:-
“Plants are flowering about a month earlier in the UK due to climate change. That’s according scientists at the University of Cambridge, who recently analysed the first flowering dates of 406 species and found a link to warmer temperatures in spring….

The problem is that climate change may increase the chance of plants and pollinators becoming out of sync, with plants flowering too early in the year for the insects that pollinate them….

In evolutionary biology, this is known as a “temporal mismatch”. Insects that are used to a feasting on April-flowering plants may find themselves arriving a month late if warmer temperatures mean that the plants now flower in March…

If earlier flowering reduces pollination, that would in turn reduce reproductive success and crop yields. Pollinators themselves could also be at risk, since earlier flowering could lead to gaps in resources like pollen and nectar leaving bees to go hungry… “

https://theconversation.com/plants-are-flowering-a-month-earlier-heres-what-it-could-mean-for-pollinating-insects-176324?

Solar parks could provide habitats for wildlife

Guardian newspaper report:-

“Solar parks could provide habitats for wildlife – and particularly bumblebees – to flourish, if managed in the right way, benefiting farmers and nature, new research suggests…..

If solar park owners were encouraged to use the land to sow wildflowers alongside the solar panels, they could become valuable habitats for pollinators, research from Lancaster University has found. Managing them in this way would boost bumblebee numbers beyond the borders of the parks, to about 1km (0.6 miles) away, benefiting farmers who rely on bees to pollinate their crops…. “

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/13/solar-parks-could-be-used-to-boost-bumblebee-numbers-study-suggests