Bee Informed: The Collapse of Insects, Winter Pollinator Habitat, Habitat Quality and Biodiversity Impact Bee Health, and Vegan Honey
Each month our Bee Informed Blog highlights current news, science, and research related to solitary bee conservation, food insecurity, and sustainability.
1. "The collapse of insects"
(REUTERS) The most diverse group of organisms on the planet are in trouble, with recent research suggesting insect populations are declining at an unprecedented rate.
As human activities rapidly transform the planet, the global insect population is declining at an unprecedented rate of up to 2% per year. Amid deforestation, pesticide use, artificial light pollution and climate change, these critters are struggling — along with the crops, flowers and other animals that rely on them to survive.
"Insects are the food that make all the birds and make all the fish,” said Wagner, who works at the University of Connecticut. “They’re the fabric tethering together every freshwater and terrestrial ecosystem across the planet.” Continue reading...
2. "Leave flower stems and heads intact for a winter food source"
(The Sylva Herald) As your landscapes finish their fall decline, formerly lush and colorful plantings begin to turn into a collage of browns, blacks, and faded greens. The natural inclination may be to trim these areas back to the ground, especially stems with large and pendulous seed heads on them.
Although trimming the dead out of plants in the fall is generally good gardening practice for shrubs and trees, try to leave the seed heads on your more herbaceous plants this year. Seed heads left on plants over the winter offer a wide range of bonuses to the wildlife in your area, including giving hungry local birds a reliable buffet during hard times.
This goes for our native bees and other beneficial insects as well. The vast majority of insects are tucked away in the landscape during winter, either in their pupal forms or in a state of hibernation called diapause. Continue reading...
3. "Habitat quality and biodiversity impact bee health"
(Earth.com) Bees are indispensable pollinators, boosting not only agricultural productivity, but also the diversity of flowering plants worldwide. However, in recent decades, both native bees and managed honeybee colonies have witnessed significant population declines, most likely caused by multiple interacting factors, such as habitat loss, parasites and disease, and increased pesticide use.
Now, a team of researchers led by the University of Michigan (U-M) has found that efforts to promote the health of native and managed bees have to consider specific habitat needs, such as the density of wildflowers. Moreover, improving other habitat measures, such as the amount of natural habitat surrounding croplands, could increase bee diversity, while having mixed effects on overall bee health. Continue reading...
4. "Meet the World's First Vegan Honey - A Sustainable Solution to a Sticky Problem"
(Sustainable Brands) With global bee populations dwindling, honey manufacturers are now facing a highly volatile and unpredictable supply chain. While startup innovators such as Beewise are working to help reverse the decline in honeybee populations with AI and robotics, another is working to take the pressure off of honeybees in a totally different way —Oakland, California-based startup MeliBio has just developed the world's first bee-less honey.
Darko Mandich, co-founder and CEO of MeliBio, says sustainability was at the forefront of the development of its bee-free honey, followed by industry concerns about quality and authenticity of the product: Honey has been found to be the third most-faked food, behind milk and olive oil. Fake honey has adverse effects throughout the value chain —affecting beekeepers, honeybees and consumers. Another advantage: In addition to being vegan, MeliBio’s lab-made version doesn’t contain Clostridium bacteria — a toxin found in honey that makes it unsafe to eat for new mothers and babies.
“Our planet is struggling; and we need to reinvent many industries and products that we rely on. There is a great opportunity for humankind to leverage all the knowledge we have been generating to create a world which can serve us and future generations. Sustainability is the name of the game; and breakthroughs drive us into a sustainable world,” Mandich asserts. Continue reading...
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