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 :-
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….”
In Monmouthshire, B-Lines run from Chepstow up the Wye Valley and also Chepstow, Usk, Abergavenny and Monmouth.
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 ……………..
Either side of the same Monmouthshire road, photographed in June ! Which do you prefer?
See :- https://plantlife.love-wildflowers.org.uk/roadvergecampaign
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.”
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. … ”
The charity Plantlife say:-
“Winter blooms have been carpeting many verges of late – hopefully these beautiful swathes of snowdrops, primroses and other botanical beauties are heralding in a blooming year for the UK’s road verges.”
Two Citizen Science Projects :-
OPAL: Nation pollination 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”
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.
10 ways to connect with nature without leaving your home this spring
The Wildlife Trusts, a UK movement made up of 46 wildlife charities, has compiled a list of ways to tune into the season from your home.
“Spring has arrived in splendid colour and sound,” said Kirsty Paterson from The Wildlife Trusts. “Over the past few days, hundreds of people have told us that they’ve spotted their first butterflies. These are moments of connection with nature that people find uplifting and comforting.”
‘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…