Live Chat: Honey Bees in Trouble (Video)

Live Chat at Science Magazine   Thursday, May 16, 2013, 12pm PDT / 3pm PDT

Honey bees are vital to agriculture because they pollinate a host of crops, but they’re in trouble. According to a recently released survey, one-third of commercial colonies in the United States were lost last year. That's in keeping with the 6-year average and roughly double what commercial beekeepers consider as acceptable losses. Many beekeepers blame pesticides, and the European Union last month moved to ban several. But how much are pesticides contributing to the decline of bees? And what can be done to improve the fate of these amazing, helpful insects?

Climate Change, Changing Landscape Affect Pollinators and Plants

(The following is brought to us by CATCH THE BUZZ (Kim Flottum) Bee Culture, The Magazine of American Beekeeping, published by A.I. Root Company.) 

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Laura Burkle and her colleagues captured 2,778 bees while retracing the muddy steps of a scientist who studied the interactions between bees and flowering plants more than a century ago.

Occasionally stung, but considering herself lucky to have access to the rich historic records that guided her field work, the Montana State University ecologist and her collaborators have now published their results in "Science."

Burkle conducted her bee study in the forests of southern Illinois while she was a postdoctoral researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Now at MSU for the past two years and planning a major ecological study between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park, Burkle and her co-authors compared the bees and flowering plants that existed in 2009 and 2010 with those that existed in the late 1800s and early 1900s around Carlinville, Ill.

The researchers discovered that the area has lost many species of bees and flowering plants over the 120 years since professor Charles Robertson first surveyed the area, Burkle said. Also lost were many interactions between the bees and flowers.

Despite the loss, however, the bees and plants have been... Read more...