A weed by any other name would smell as sweet: Unsung pollination heroes

Weeds often get a bad rap, but new research suggests we should think twice before pulling them out of our gardens and farm fields. In fact, they may be even more beneficial than wildflower patches. Read on to learn more about how farmers’ and gardeners’ number one enemy – weeds – could actually be pollinators’ number one ally!

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Urban Gardens Provide Stable Nectar Supply for Pollinators

Insect pollinators are in trouble, and many plants on farms or in the wild need them to be able to grow fruits and reproduce. With so much at stake for plants around the world, and the humans who depend on them, how can we stop the decline of insect pollinator populations? Urban gardens may have a role to play in supporting pollinators, especially if we plant flowers that provide a stable supply of nectar, their most important food.

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Flying on the Edge – Bees use linear features to navigate

Ever noticed how straight roads or the edges of crop fields are? Humans love turning naturally curvy land into straight lines. While land modification poses significant threats to many animals, some can take advantage of these changes. A new study found that bumble bees exploit human-made lines and edges to navigate to food sources. Taking the path most traveled may make all the difference for these bees.

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It’s Complicated: Plant-pollinator relationships differ from urban to rural areas

Flowers and the butterflies they attract are beautiful additions to any yard, but your garden is serving a greater purpose. Pollinators – including butterflies, moths, bees, and wasps – depend on plants for survival and are essential for plant reproduction. Plant-pollinator relationships are especially important for agriculture and our food supply. Cities pose many challenges for both plants and their pollinators which could strain their relationship. Find out how cities put pressure on plant-pollinator relationships and what you can do to help!

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The Cows and the Bees

In the age of the sixth extinction, we need to think carefully about how we use our land– especially when different land uses are at odds. As a way to advance conservation, researchers in Israel examined “land sharing” of rangelands: a way of using land to benefit agriculture and biodiversity alike.

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The Hunger Gaps: when flower supply fails to meet bee demand

Wild bees are indispensable pollen-transporters that support and maintain diverse plant communities in nature, but in discussions about the well-being of bees, they tend to lose the spotlight to their honeybee cousins. One issue where both wild bees and honeybees are struggling, however, is in facing the lack of food continuity throughout the growing season. Mapping the “hunger gaps” for foraging bees, and working to close such gaps, is a key issue for bee conservation.

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Mentally “exhausted” honey bees—petroleum exhaust makes bees learn slower and forget faster

Scent pollution from exhaust fumes could disrupt the relationship between honey bees and the flowers they feed from and pollinate. The smell of flowers invites pollinators to come and feast on their nectar. But exhaust masks those smells, making it harder for bees to learn and remember the floral scents that cue them in to flowers.

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Community and home gardens are hotspots for pollinators in cities

Pollinators, such as bees, are important parts of the environment since they are required for plant success and fruit production by humans and animals alike. However, populations of pollinators have been declining worldwide due to a number of issues, including widespread pesticide use and loss of habitats. A recent study conducted by researchers in the UK and their colleagues examined pollinator use of urban areas, comparing community gardens, home gardens, cemeteries, and other spaces. The researchers show that the abundance and diversity of many pollinator groups was highest in community and home gardens, and suggest that urban planners should increase these spaces to boost pollinator populations.

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