Category Archives: Environment

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/

Mass bee die-offs – Brazil’s pesticide boom

Bees are sentinels’: “mass bee die-offs signal the wider impact of Brazil’s pesticide boom”

“The footage is unpleasant to watch: thousands of bees writhe, disoriented, on the ground in front of their hive. The dead bodies of thousands more lie beneath them.

But the smell, said beekeeper Aldo Machado, is even worse.

“Dead bees smell like dead rats,” he said. “The smell is very strong, it really is. It’s like any other meat.”

Half a billion bees are estimated to have died from December 2018 to January 2019 in southern Brazil. Machado, vice-president of Rio Grande do Sul’s beekeeping society, has been hearing reports of die-offs since 2013.

Machado sent samples of his bees for analysis, which showed that they were contaminated with an insecticide called fipronil, commonly used to control ants and termites on soy crops.”

See the full report…
https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/02/27/bee-die-offs-soya-brazil-pesticide-boom-biodiverisity-agriculture/

Cambridge College lawn becomes a wildflower meadow

A famous University of Cambridge view is set for a change as a pristine lawn maintained for centuries is transformed into a wildflower meadow.

King’s College Chapel and its sloping lawn down to the River Cam have become one of the city’s best-known images.  It is popular with tourists, featuring in thousands of Instagram posts, and is widely used to promote the city.

Head gardener Steve Coghill said it was hoped the meadow would bloom in May and create a “biodiversity-rich ecosystem”….

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-51179488

Too many honey bees threaten wild bee numbers

Come springtime the Brussels region’s environment agency Bruxelles Environnement will take up the beehives it manages at nature sites in Brussels, and remove them permanently.

The move forms part of a plan by the region to tackle the recent huge growth in members of the public keeping bees – a trend inspired by concerns about pollution, climate and biodiversity. Bees have become something of a mascot for this movement, in part because they are an excellent barometer of environmental conditions, and in part because of their crucial role in maintaining biodiversity.

But it’s possible to have too much biodiversity, and the honey bee – a variety essentially created by Man for Man – now represents a threat to its wild cousin….

https://www.brusselstimes.com/brussels-2/90095/brussels-wants-to-stop-unfettered-growth-in-beehives-wild-honey-biodiversity-hives-pollution-climate-apiarist/

Pesticides found to starve fish ‘astoundingly fast’

Report from The Guardian:-

“The Silent Spring prophecy that pesticides could “still the leaping of fish” has been confirmed, according to scientists investigating the collapse of fisheries in Japan. They say similar impacts are likely to have occurred around the world.

The long-term study showed an immediate plunge in insect and plankton numbers in a large lake after the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides to rice paddies. This was rapidly followed by the collapse of smelt and eel populations, which had been stable for decades but rely on the tiny creatures for food. … ”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/31/fishery-collapse-confirms-silent-spring-pesticide-prophecy

The State of Nature in Wales

The State of Nature, a summary for Wales:-

“Changing agricultural management has had the biggest single impact upon nature in recent decades.

Our measure of species’ distribution, covering a broad range of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, has declined since 1970, with more species decreasing than increasing. The rate of this change in nature appears to be increasing: our statistics indicate that over the last decade nearly half of the species for which we have data have shown strong changes in distribution.  8% of species in Wales are threatened with extinction.”

https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-Wales-summary.pdf

https://nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/03/populations-of-uks-most-important-wildlife-have-plummeted-since-1970

Full report:-
https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf

Full report summary:-
The State of Nature Report 2019-Summary