Bee News: January Edition

Obama Out, Bumble Bee In!

Before Obama’s grand farewell to his time in office, he managed to secure the protection for one of the United State’s greatest allies, the Rusty Patched bumble bee. This species of bee, known for their important contribution to agriculture, has officially made the endangered species list. This will result in an extensive recovery plan, led by the Fish and Wildlife Service. Agriculture has been hard on the bumble bee, due to reduced habitat, the use of pesticides and other chemicals, and the production of monocrops. The placement of these bees on the list is a huge victory for the species and a great step towards saving the bees!  rusty patch bumble bee

It’s Varroa mites? It’s Pesticides? It’s Zombees? Nope… it’s Bacteria!

Add another threat to the list of issues our buddies, the honeybees, are facing. Recently, a University of Wisconsin-Stout biology professor and his students made an important discovery while trying to determine the issue facing bees during harsh winters in the Upper Midwest. The researchers discovered a new strain of the bacterium called Serratia marcescens, strain sicaria, during their analysis of blood from sick bees in the area. The blood looked like nothing seen before, and after a few tests, they confirmed that there’s a new threat for the little guys! Between December 2014 and September 2016, 3,219 honey bees and 1,259 Varroa destructor mites were tested from the surrounding counties. The strain, Ss1, was found in bees and mites from every participating county. While the news may seem unfortunate, the discovery is a positive step toward a possible solution! The research will create a clearer picture of the diseases and the challenges that honey bees are up against.

Fall Fears: Increased Varroa Population in The Fall Could Be Linked to Robber Bees!

The Varroa mite is a main contributor to the mass decline of the bees, and a beekeeper’s worst enemy. While it is said that the mites have low reproduction rates, beekeepers across the globe have seen mass increases in the mite’s population. A recent study found that the rise in varroa during the fall months could be linked the mite migration. Commonly, strong colonies rob weaker colonies of their honey. In many cases, the weaker colonies have become weak because of a mite infestation. While the bees are robbing the weaker hive, the mites jump ship, transferring onto a stronger robbing bee, and get carried back to the healthy hive. There, the mites begin to infest the hive, and the process starts all over again. Even though these findings are still at the early stages, they may bring the insight needed to help beekeepers prevent future infestations.fullsizeoutput_21c9

It’s Gonna Bug You: New bee species discovered looks like ants!

Utah State university and the meteorological institute in Austin recently discovered 9 new species of desert bees in the American southwest. Some of these new species look incredibly similar to ants. The insects belong to the genus perdita, which consists of more than 700 bees species found across southwestern U.S. and the plains of Mexico. The ant like characteristics appear in two of the male bees of the recently discovered species. As if that isn’t cool enough, it was also found that the bees may be pollinating crinklemats, a flowering plant of the genus tequila. Shot anyone? 161227110229_1_900x600