660 Species Of Bees Live In Newly Shrunk National Monument

National Geographic By Katarina Zimmer December 17, 2018

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument supports hundreds of bee species, possibly because of its diversity of flowers. This newly discovered bee biodiversity hotspot is at risk now that the monument has been shrunk. Photograph by Olivia Messinger Carril

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument supports hundreds of bee species, possibly because of its diversity of flowers. This newly discovered bee biodiversity hotspot is at risk now that the monument has been shrunk. Photograph by Olivia Messinger Carril

Scientists have found a striking diversity of bees, in the most extensive study of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to date.

AT FIRST GLANCE, it might not seem as if life thrives in the dry, otherworldly expanses of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The high, rugged patch in southern Utah is mostly known for its jagged cliffs, steep canyons, and vast, arid deserts. But bee biologist Olivia Messinger Carril knows better.

For four years, she and a team of volunteers spent nearly every summer day combing the Delaware-sized area, bit by bit, in search of bees the untrained eye might miss. The main result: An awful lot of bees live there.

Not just your ordinary yellow-and-black striped ones. There were iridescent blue mason bees, purple bees, green bees, and brilliant red bees. Bald bees, hairy bees, “big bumblers you can hear coming from a mile away, and tiny, tiny little ones that are the size of a comma in the books you’re reading,” says Carril, a science teacher at Santa Fe Girls School who does research on the side.

All in all, a whopping 660 species live within the monument’s boundaries. That’s nearly every fifth bee species in North America. Forty-nine of these were entirely new to science, according to the recently published research.

Why this remote patch of Utah is such a busy place for bees is somewhat of a mystery. It likely mirrors the diversity of desert flowers the insects pollinate, as well as the range of habitats…

Continue reading: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2018/12/bee-city-at-risk-after-grand-staircase-escalante-divided/


Shrinking of Utah National Monument May Threaten Bee Biodiversity

Smithsonian.com By Brigit Katz December 17, 2018

The Grand Staircase-Escalante is home to 660 bee species, 84 of which will live outside of protected land under changes

From left, small and large carpenter bees (Ceratina and Xylocopa, respectively, visit a wild rose in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. (Joseph S. Wilson, USU)

From left, small and large carpenter bees (Ceratina and Xylocopa, respectively, visit a wild rose in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. (Joseph S. Wilson, USU)

In December of last year, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation announcing his plans to shrink Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to nearly half of its original size. Comprising a remote and beautiful stretch of canyons, cliffs and desert, the monument is home to a huge range of biodiversity, including hundreds of bee species. And some of those buzzing critters could be imperilled by the planned modifications, according to a new study.

As Katarina Zimmer reports for National Geographic, research published last month in the journal PeerJ found that 660 bee species make their home in the Grand Staircase-Escalante, among them 49 species that are new to science. Over the course of four years, scientists catalogued black and yellow bees, red bees, turquoise bees, social bees, solitary bees, bees that nest in the ground, and bees that nest in cavities and twigs. It is not clear why so many bee species have chosen to make their home in the monument, but they may be attracted to the diversity of the landscape, which offers a range of habitats and desert plants.

Most of the bees were found to dwell in geographically isolated locations, prompting the researchers to wonder how the administration’s proposed changes to Grand Staircase-Escalante will affect bee populations that live there. According to Emily Birnbaum of the Hill, the plan involves splitting the monument into three smaller ones, which could in turn open newly unprotected land to human development, like mining, road construction and natural gas extraction.

As part of a follow-up study published this month, also in PeerJ, a number of the researchers involved in the first report studied the distribution of bees across old and new boundaries. They found that most of the bees—87 percent of the 660 species—live in areas that will continue to lie within the monument once its boundaries are reduced. But “that leaves about 84 species no longer inhabiting protected land,” says Joseph Wilson, an evolutionary ecologist at Utah State University and lead author of the new study.

Some of these bees are unique “morphospecies,” or individuals that don’t match any known species, and others still have not been described. A number of newly excluded bee species also represent the northern or southern extent of their range in the region, which is important because “they can provide valuable information about how bee species might respond to climate change,” according to the study authors.

The researchers are also worried about possible threats to Grand Staircase-Escalante’s bees because, as pollinating insects, bees play a crucial role in their ecosystems. Indeed, the decline of honeybees across the globe, due largely to the use of bee-killing pesticides has sparked acute concerns about biodiversity loss and detrimental impacts on food production.

But for now, it is not known how the shrinking of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument will impact the bees that live there. None of the excluded species seem to be currently threatened, and few are universally rare, occurring in other regions of the western United States. And while bees perform “a critical ecological service as pollinators,” the study authors write, “the role of these specific bees in maintaining functioning plant–pollinator networks has not been evaluated to any extent.”

Further study is needed, in other words, to fully assess the ramifications of the proclamation. It is not even clear if the proposed modifications will happen. Native American and conservation groups have filed lawsuits against the president, arguing that his plans to reduce the Grand Staircase-Escalante and another Utah monument, Bears Ears, are illegal and exceed the president’s authority.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/shrinking-utah-national-monument-may-threaten-bees-180971052/#0hvJV4Aril3E0d1B.99

Additional Related Articles:
https://phys.org/news/2018-12-bees-grand-staircase-escalante-national-monument.html https://phys.org/news/2018-11-utah-grand-staircase-escalante-national-monument.html

One Man From The Kulung Culture Harvests Psychotropic Honey That Is Guarded By Capricious Spirits And The World’s Largest Honeybees.

National Geographic Magazine   By Mark Synnott  Photos by Renan Ozturk     July 2017

Mauli Dhan climbs a hundred feet up a bamboo rope ladder to his prize: a hive filled with neurotoxic honey. Smoke from smoldering grass disorients the bees, possibly reducing the number of stings Mauli will suffer. Before he grabs the support rope beside him, a misstep could be fatal.

Three hundred feet in the air, Mauli Dhan dangles on a bamboo rope ladder, surveying the section of granite he must climb to reach his goal: a pulsing mass of thousands of Himalayan giant honeybees. They carpet a crescent-shaped hive stretching almost six feet below a granite overhang. The bees are guarding gallons of a sticky, reddish fluid known as mad honey, which, thanks to its hallucinogenic properties, sells on Asian black markets for $60 to $80 a pound—roughly six times the price of regular Nepali honey.

Himalayan honeybees make several types of honey depending on the season and the elevation of the flowers that produce the nectar they eat. The psychotropic effects of the spring honey result from toxins found in the flowers of massive rhododendron trees, whose bright pink, red, and white blossoms bloom each March and April on north-facing hillsides throughout the Hongu Valley. The Kulung people of eastern Nepal have used the honey for centuries as a cough syrup and an antiseptic, and the beeswax has found its way into workshops in the alleys of Kathmandu, where it is used to cast bronze statues of gods and goddesses. 

360° VIDEO Join photographer Renan Ozturk as he dangles from a cliff to see Mauli Dhan harvest rare honey. To experience the video in 360 degrees, click on the content and drag, or click on the arrows at top left. (Interactivity not an option on some mobile devices.)

Continue reading, view images and breathtaking videos: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/07/honey-hunters-bees-climbing-nepal/

(Note: At our LACBA meeting July 3, 2017, Jon Reese, brought in this magnificant article from National Geographic. Check it out online, amazing, breathtaking videos, and lots of images.)

LA County Fair Bee Booth - Weirdest Bees Dance!

Watch the bees perform the Waggle Dance here on the National Geographic video.

Then come to the LA County Fair, visit the Bee Booth, check out the honey bee observation hive, and see if you can spot The World's Weirdest: Honey Bee Dance Moves - The Waggle Dance.  There's only five more days of the fair (Wed-Sun) Sept 23-28). You don't want to miss this rare opportunity to see the honey bees perform The Waggle Dance in person.


Watch: This Dog's Nose Saves Bees

National Geographic    Via Swindon & District Beekeepers Association  January 14, 2015

Klinker is a one-of-a-kind dog. She's the only dog in the U.S. certified to detect a damaging bacteria in beehives. Along with her handler, Bill Troup, she inspects up to a thousand honeybee colonies a day for the contagious and lethal bacteria called American foulbrood.

View at National Geographic: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/news/150114-news-american-foulbrood-dog