As you already know, we love bees! So, we’re sharing the highlight reel of all major bee happenings that went on this past month.
The Hit List: Bees Make It on the Endangered Species List for the First time
Seven bee species native to Hawaii have been placed under protection by the endangered species act. The Yellow-faced bee species has had a population declined in recent years due to habitat loss, pesticides, wildfires and loss of genetic diversity, however, it wasn’t until recent research that it was concluded that protection was necessary. Without these hard workers, the United States would lose an abundance of agriculture, said to be valued at more than $9 billion annually! By listing the bees, it is easy to provide recovery programs as well as receive protection funding. #savethebees
How Do I Smell?
Flowers mimic the smell of dying honey bees to attract pollinators! In the plant world, there is an abundance of cases where plants deceive pollinators. There are plants that use sex, others that use food. Recently, a new case of food deception has popped up … Smelling like dead bees! The plant that does this is from Native to South Africa, scientifically called Ceropegia sandersonii. This species of plant requires Kleptoparasitic flies for pollination. These flies live off of food stolen from other organisms, in particular, the juices of a bee freshly attacked by a spider!! Therefore, the plant has cleverly evolved to smell like the food their ideal pollinator loves… dead bees! The flies are attracted to the blossoms of these flowers through the smell they give off. Once on the flower, the bugs fall inside of the flower and are trapped for lengths of time. While the bugs freak out, they pick up pollen that is around them. After a while, the flowers wilt and release the fly from it’s prison! If all goes according to plan, the bug will fly away, get tricked by another flower of the same plant and repeat the procedure and ultimately pollinating the new plant!
Protect Our Pollinators: The Bees Are Not the Only Pollinators We Need to Worry About!
Over the past 2 decades, the Monarch Butterfly’s population has declined rapidly, from 1 billion to 35 million. Unfortunately, as of October, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency approved a new weed Killer, Enlist Duo, by Dow AgroScience. This pesticide is highly toxic, containing a glyphosate and 2,4-D in order to kill weeds that are resistant to the each of those pesticides on their own. How does this dramatically affect the monarch? Well, One wild plant that has not developed defenses against growing pesticide use is milkweed… Milkweed is essentially the entirety of the Monarch’s survival for it is their food source. Researchers found milkweed in half of Iowa farm fields in 1999, but a decade later, only 8 percent of cropland still contained milkweed. The mindset seems to be “let’s fight these pesticide resistant plants with more pesticides” without thinking of the detrimental effect these pesticides are having on the environment. Unfortunately, if this mindset continues, we will lose our pollinators, and ultimately lose our agriculture.