The endangered listing for the rusty patched bumblebee is finally given wings

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The rusty patched bumblebee’s path to the endangered list was as up and down as the way it flies.

After a years-long run-up to a determination early this year that it was eligible for the list, and a month-long delay for a newly required review by the Trump administration, the rusty patched on Tuesday became the first bumblebee — and the first bee overall in the continental United States — to be listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Don’t Plant Those “Bee-Friendly” Wildflowers Cheerios Is Giving Away

Read the full story at Lifehacker.

Bee populations are in decline, and Cheerios wants to help. So far, so good. But they are sending free packets of wildflower seeds to people all over the country—and some of the flowers included are invasive species that, in some areas, you should probably not plant.

Call it ‘plan bee’: A new app could change how we support pollinators

Read the full story from the University of Minnesota.

Let’s say a farmer wants to plant wildflowers to nurture the bees that pollinate her crops. Currently, she would have to walk through her fields, assess locations, take measurements, spend hours crunching costs, and still only guess at the amount of pollination the effort will generate.

Soon, the farmer can do it all on her phone or computer with an app that will calculate the crop productivity and pollination benefits of supporting endangered bees.

University of Vermont (UVM) bee expert Taylor Ricketts, who is co-leading the app’s development with Eric Lonsdorf of the University of Minnesota (UMN), introduced the technology on February 19 during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting. Ricketts was on the panel Plan Bee: Pollinators, Food Production and U.S. Policy.

The app, which goes live later this year, is a product of the Integrated Crop Pollination Project, supported by the USDA NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative. The researchers are developing the app with Philadelphia software company Azavea.

A variety of bee species down on the farm leads to juicier fruits

Read the full story in Science.

There are more than 2500 bee species around the world that pollinate plants, and research has shown that having a variety of pollinators can boost crop yields and naturally control pests. Yet in many farm environments, there’s only one bee to be found: Apis mellifera, the European honey bee. Thousands of years of domestication have made this insect able to pollinate under a wide variety of circumstances, but native wild bees (such as this metallic green bee) need native habitat, which is often in short supply in agricultural environments. According to new findings reported here today at the annual meeting of AAAS, which publishes Science, farmers can invite greater bee diversity in their fields by diversifying their crops.

Fight invasives or protect pollinators: Neonicotinoids present tough choice

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides frequently used in agriculture, gets plenty of bad press for killing pollinators like honeybees.

But they’ve also emerged as an important combatant of the emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that has devastated ash tree populations all over the United States with the highest risk localized to the American Midwest and the northern half of the eastern seaboard.