New IDOT Mowing Approach to Help Protect Monarch Butterfly, Pollinator Populations in Illinois

Read the full story from the Illinois Department of Transportation.

To help revive the shrinking populations of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators, the Illinois Department of Transportation is adjusting its mowing routine along state highways this spring and summer. The approach, part of IDOT’s overall effort to encourage green and sustainable practices in all its programs and projects, will help to re-establish types of plants that are food sources for bees, butterflies and other insects that are native to Illinois.

Bumblebee populations higher in Detroit than in some less-urbanized areas; vacant lots could be a factor

Read the full story from the University of Michigan.

A new study of native bumblebee populations in southeastern Michigan cities found, surprisingly, that Detroit has more of the large-bodied bees than some surrounding, less urbanized locations.

Common Pesticide Damages Honey Bee’s Ability to Fly

Read the full story from the University of California San Diego.

Biologists at the University of California San Diego have demonstrated for the first time that a widely used pesticide can significantly impair the ability of otherwise healthy honey bees to fly, raising concerns about how pesticides affect their capacity to pollinate and the long-term effects on the health of honey bee colonies.

Making the Bed Just Right for Alkali Bees

Read the full story from the Agricultural Research Service.

Last summer, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) entomologist Jim Cane spent a week visiting alfalfa fields near the town of Touchet, in Walla Walla County, Washington. He wasn’t scouting for insect threats or damage to the legume crop. Instead, he was collecting data on the alkali bee, a solitary, ground-nesting species that alfalfa seed growers count on for peak yields. Alfalfa seed is sold to grow premium hay for dairy cows and other livestock.

Known scientifically as Nomia melanderi, the alkali bee is a champion pollinator when it comes to alfalfa flowers—even outperforming the respected honey bee. In fact, some Touchet farmers maintain parcels of open soil called “bee beds” to encourage female alkali bees to nest and raise their young, ensuring generations of pollinators and profitable seed yields for the future. Some of these sites have been maintained for more than 50 years, underscoring the insect’s importance to local alfalfa growers.

Innovative Honey Bee Phone App Helps Monitor Hive Health

From U.S. EPA’s Science Matters newsletter:

EPA kicked off a citizen science research project using the app HiveScience [iOS, Android]. The pilot program enables select beekeepers to submit hive health reports and honey samples to EPA for analysis. This data helps researchers investigate biomarkers of immunity found in honey, and relate that data to bee colony survival over the winter. Scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and Bayer Crop Science are enthusiastic about this project because it provides an inexpensive, novel approach for beekeepers to assess the health of their hives with minimal effort. The project is launching a limited rollout with the Eastern Missouri Beekeeper Association, a regional group with a history of participation in honey bee-related citizen science projects. If successful, EPA may involve a larger audience later this fall.

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.