Scientists Link Colony Collapse Disorder to Stressed Young Bees

by Trevor Smith

Colony Collapse Disorder, which has troubled beekeepers across the nation and world over the last decade, has been linked this week to stressed young bees, The Guardian reports. Recent developments in bee populations have forced younger bees to leave the hive to forage much earlier than they might otherwise. The stress of these journeys is likely too much for the younger bees’ bodies, which have not finished fully developing; younger bees are not able to make as many journeys in their lives between the hive and the outer world as bees who leave the hive as adults. The result, argues an article in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), is a hive-wide social imbalance that accelerates collapse (Perry et al. 2015). Continue reading

Biodiversity Protects Plant-Pollinator Phenological Synchrony from Climate Change

by Lia Metzger

Biodiversity has been linked to the protection and sustenance of ecosystems against the loss of individual species. Studies have found that climate change, a contributor to the loss of species, has caused significant changes in phenology, mostly in species active in the spring. The biodiversity insurance hypothesis has never been expanded to include phenological synchrony as a possible buffer against the loss of individual species due to climate change. Bartomeus et al. (2013) investigated the phenological changes of wild bee species and of commercial apple crops over 46 years to find if bees and apples had phenological synchrony and if this was related to the richness of pollinator species. Using a contemporary data set, the authors picked pollinators that most frequently visited apple and tested for their phenological complimentarity. Bee and apple data were compared over time to find phenological mismatch and the rate of phenological change for different species with respect to apple bloom. Phenological synchrony was then tested against wild bee biodiversity. Phenological synchrony was found to increase with increasing biodiversity of the bee species and stabilize over time even though the rate of phenological shifting differed between species. Continue reading