Study claims: Climate change may eventually starve bees

From PURDUE UNIVERSITY: Rising CO2 levels reduce protein in crucial pollen source for bees 

Bees rely on goldenrod pollen as a food source, but it's less nutritious than it used to be due to rising CO2 levels, a Purdue University study finds. CREDIT (Purdue University/Tom Campbell)
Bees rely on goldenrod pollen as a food source, but it’s less nutritious than it used to be due to rising CO2 levels, a Purdue University study finds. CREDIT (Purdue University/Tom Campbell)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have reduced protein in goldenrod pollen, a key late-season food source for North American bees, a Purdue University study shows.

Researchers found that the overall protein concentration of goldenrod pollen fell about one-third from the onset of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the 21st century.

Previous studies have shown that increases in carbon dioxide can lower the nutritional value of plants such as wheat and rice – staple crops for much of the global human population – but this study is the first to examine the effects of rising CO2 on the diet of bees.

“Bee food is less nutritious than it used to be,” said Jeffrey Dukes, study co-author and professor of forestry and natural resources and biological sciences. “Our findings also suggest that the quality of pollen will continue to decline into the future. That’s not great news for bees.”

Native bee species and honeybees rely on flowering plants for energy and nutrition. While nectar is the primary energy source for bee colonies, pollen is the sole source of protein for bees. Pollen is essential for the development of bee larvae and helps maintain bees’ immunity to pathogens and parasites.

Goldenrod, a common North American perennial that blooms from late July through October, offers bees some of the last available pollen before winter. Bees that overwinter must store substantial amounts of pollen to rear their winter young. Declines in pollen protein could potentially threaten bee health and survival and weaken bees’ ability to overwinter on a continental scale, said Jeffery Pettis, study co-author and research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

“A poor diet sets bees up for failure,” he said. “Previous research shows bees have shorter lifespans when fed lower quality pollen.”

The researchers noted, however, that this study only assessed pollen protein levels and did not look at the impact of protein reductions on bee health and populations.

“Our work suggests there is a strong possibility that decreases in pollen protein could contribute to declines in bee health, but we haven’t yet made that final link,” said Dukes, who is also director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center housed in Discovery Park.

Dukes collaborated with a team led by USDA-ARS researchers to examine protein levels in historical and experimental samples of goldenrod pollen. They found that pollen protein levels dropped about a third in samples collected from 1842-2014, a period during which the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere rose from about 280 parts per million to 398 ppm. The greatest drop in protein occurred during 1960-2014, a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose dramatically.

A 2-year controlled field experiment that exposed goldenrod to a gradient of carbon dioxide levels from 280 to 500 ppm showed strikingly similar decreases in pollen protein, Dukes said.

“These data provide an urgent and compelling case for establishing CO2 sensitivity of pollen protein for other floral species,” the researchers concluded in their study.

Bees provide a valuable service to U.S. agriculture through pollination, contributing more than $15 billion in added crop value each year.

But a number of new and mounting pressures are crippling colonies and endangering bee populations. These threats include emerging diseases and parasites such as deformed wing virus, Varroa mites and Nosema fungi; a lack of diversity and availability of pollen and nectar sources; and exposure to a wide variety of pesticides. From 2006 to 2011, annual losses of managed honeybee colonies averaged about 33 percent per year, according to the USDA-ARS.

“Bees already face a lot of factors that are making their lives hard,” Dukes said. “A decline in the nutritional quality of their food source going into a critical season is another reason to be concerned.”

Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide – a building block for plant sugars -have allowed many plants to grow faster and bigger. But this growth spurt can dilute plants’ total protein, rather than concentrating it in the grain, resulting in a less nutritious food source.

Slowing the degrading effects of rising carbon dioxide levels on plant nutrition hinges on reducing carbon emission rates from deforestation and burning fossil fuels, Dukes said.

“The impact of carbon emissions on the nutritional value of our food supply is something people need to be aware of. This issue isn’t just relevant to honeybees and people – it will probably affect thousands or even millions of other plant-eating species around the world. We don’t yet know how they’ll deal with it.”


The study was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B on Wednesday (April 13) and is available to journal subscribers and on-campus readers at

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
April 15, 2016 11:46 am

Declines in pollen protein could potentially threaten bee health and survival and weaken bees’ ability to overwinter on a continental scale, said Jeffery Pettis, study co-author and research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

Increasing CO2 and temperature could potentially bring new food sources and improve bees’ ability to overwinter on a global scale, said a random commenter in the Internet. He was not paid to find more alarming results for further investigation.

Reply to  Hugs
April 15, 2016 2:44 pm

Not only that, but a longer growing season would mean less overwintering food requirements.
I’m getting a little bit put out by statements like this from so-called “scientists”:

“Our work suggests there is a strong possibility that decreases in pollen protein could contribute to declines in bee health, but we haven’t yet made that final link,” said Dukes

Since when have unsubstantiated assumptions been allowed to be passed off as an inevitability in the scientific community? The only headline the researchers should have had was “Pollen from goldenrod has declined in protein content by 30% since the Industrial Revolution began”. Don’t speculate.

Fly over Bob
Reply to  AZ1971
April 15, 2016 4:09 pm

Hockey sticks anyone?

Reply to  AZ1971
April 15, 2016 7:36 pm

and when did the industrial revolution begin? Did they even know what protein was?

Reply to  AZ1971
April 16, 2016 1:12 am

“Bee food is less nutritious than it used to be,” said Jeffrey Dukes,
Did they also look at whether it would be more abundant? NO.
This is just more crap pseudo science. Take whatever you want to study and find some subjective, twisted means to link it to long term change in CO2.
Something goes up , something goes down WOW we have a correlation with CO2!

Reply to  Hugs
April 15, 2016 4:08 pm

“Pollen from goldenrod has declined in protein content by 30% since the Industrial Revolution began”
eat 43% more pollen. problem solved. or do the authors believe bees are incapable of adjusting their diet to match available food supplies?

Reply to  ferdberple
April 15, 2016 6:12 pm

Add to that the fact that if the pollen has 30% less protein because of increasing CO2 then it’s probably because there IS 40% to 60% more Pollen being produced.

Reply to  Hugs
April 15, 2016 9:46 pm

In other news, poverty declined since the start of the war on poverty. It declined before that, too.

April 15, 2016 11:47 am

A key sentence in the paper reads: :…the subsequent influence of reduced protein concentration from S. canadensis on bee feeding, health or demographics has not been explicitly determined.”
So despite an apparently real decrease in goldenrod pollen protein, they have no idea of its affect on bees.

Reply to  Gary
April 15, 2016 11:50 am

Those of us who are allergic to it says bravo to the decrease.

Reply to  ShrNfr
April 15, 2016 12:09 pm

I understand your allergy, ShrNfr, but in the greater scheme of things, the world could do without those with bee sting allergies better than it could do without the bees.
Apologize if that sounds unkind, but it is what it is.

Reply to  ShrNfr
April 15, 2016 12:35 pm

JohnWho says: April 15, 2016 at 12:09 pm
… the world could do without those with bee sting allergies better than it could do without the bees.

Bees aren’t the only pollinators. Even mosquitoes can act as pollinators. And Honey Bees aren’t the only bees. We don’t have to choose between bees and people.

Reply to  ShrNfr
April 15, 2016 12:40 pm

Unlikely. Solidago pollen is large, not windblown. It’s usually ragweed that causes the allergies, goldenrod being falsely accused.

Curious George
Reply to  ShrNfr
April 15, 2016 1:52 pm

This is the first mosquito-friendly comment I saw. If they only did not want to pollinate me…

Mike Rossander
Reply to  ShrNfr
April 20, 2016 11:41 am

While true that “bees are not the only pollinators”, honey bees are the only pollinators that
1. are promiscuous in their ability to pollinate a wide variety of plants (as opposed to the niche-pollination of, say, mosquitoes)
2. are continuous in their pollination throughout the growing season (as opposed to the time-limited pollination of most wasps and bumble bees that only pollinate when the specific plants that they co-evolved with are blooming)
3. easily pollinate the plants that make up most of the human-preferred food plants (native pollinators in the Americas did not evolve with and will at best only weakly pollinate the crops that we imported)
4. work at industrial scale and can be moved as agricultural needs demand
5. can be moved to other pastures/crops when the target monoculture crop stops blooming (For more on this, go look at an industrial orchard. The main crop blooms for a few weeks but when that dries up, there’s nothing left for the bees. It’s a “green desert” until the few weeks next year.)
So while it’s true that there are other pollinators out there (and also true that most of our cereal crops are wind-pollinated and will be unaffected by any loss of bees of any sort), the variety and nutrition levels that you have come to expect for your regular human diet would be sharply curtailed by the loss of honeybees.

george e. smith
Reply to  Gary
April 15, 2016 12:08 pm

Well if they had completed their study, they would have discovered that the total amount of goldenrod pollen available to bees was increased more by the increased CO2 levels, than the specific nutritional value was reduced, so bees are living high off the hog now, thanks to more CO2.
Did I detect the presence of the word ” may ” in the headline there.
So who is it that ‘may’ give the bees permission to starve on the low protein pollen.
Are you sure they didn’t say ‘ might ‘, as in NOT ‘ might not ‘ ??
I hereby give those bees permission to eat all of the goldenrod pollen they want to.

Paul Westhaver
April 15, 2016 11:49 am

In a desperate clamber for excess UN-esque climate-change research trough cash, somebody actually concocted an investigation of CO2 effects on bee food. Seriously, somebody thought this one up. Must have been some PT Barnum DNA in the woodpile.
And of course, increased plant growth has ONLY a negative effect on bees…. predictable farce.
How would CO2 increases affect Zika-infected mosquitoes? Well… they would multiply faster right?

April 15, 2016 11:50 am

“The researchers noted, however, that this study only assessed pollen protein levels and did not look at the impact of protein reductions on bee health and populations.”
Perhaps they’ll just eat more and it will not be a problem.

Bryan A
Reply to  JohnWho
April 15, 2016 12:37 pm

Lets see…Increased CO2 leading to Increased Plant Growth…Increased Plant Growth leading to evolution of Mega Flora…Mega Flora leading to increased food supply…Increased food supply leading to evolution of Mega Fauna…
The Bees will simply respond to this increase in food supply created by increased CO2 by evolving an increase in size to accommodate the necessity of a greater intake of food
Bigger Bees..YEA

Reply to  Bryan A
April 15, 2016 1:23 pm

Bee obesity is a serious matter.

Reply to  Bryan A
April 16, 2016 4:08 am

+ Thanks JohnWho.

Anne Ominous
April 15, 2016 11:51 am

As much as I hate to repeat the obvious, showing a correlation does not establish causation. Especially when the correlation is a lab experiment with 500ppm, vs a real world at 400ppm.
It’s suggestive, but that’s all it is. We should never forget that today’s CO2 concentrations are relatively low compared to most of the history of evolution.
Bees have been around a lot longer than we have, through periods of much higher concentrations of CO2. I find it scarcely credible that this small rise leaves them seriously endangered.

Reply to  Anne Ominous
April 15, 2016 6:28 pm

I’ll give the Researchers this, they at least actually ran the experiment to find if different levels of atmospheric CO2 altered the amount of protein in pollen. By now I would have expected them to published based on just the speculation.
Now they need to run the concluding experiment, to find out if their hypothesis actually holds up. I’d try several greenhouse with varying levels of CO2 and hives of honey bees. See if the ones in High CO2 fair poorer then in Low Co2.
Once they have some actual Data to go along with their beautiful hypothesis is the time to publish. Of course, if they wait that long they might get Data that doesn’t support the CAGW meme, and good luck getting published then!

April 15, 2016 11:52 am

It is a good thing that CO2 levels have never been above that supposedly healthier 280ppm or life would have surely suffered in the past.

April 15, 2016 11:59 am

Wait, do I understand this correctly?
An imported species, the European honeybee, will starve as the nutritional value of the pollen of a native plant declines?

Reply to  John Robertson
April 15, 2016 7:42 pm

no. they will just get dia bee tees.

April 15, 2016 12:01 pm

Why goldenrod? I sorta thought that bee colonies stored food, so late seasonal availability was not that relevant.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 15, 2016 12:38 pm

Was just reading up on that. They do, especially when foraging is good. E.g. Milkweed nectar, alfalfa pollen. Honeycomb and bee bread are the proofs.
But will forage the whole season. Wiki has main sources of both nectar and pollen for spring, summer, and fall, divided feral and domestic plants, further subdivided trees/ bushes and flowers/crops. Golden rod is listed as one of 9 fall pollen sources, and not the primary one.

David A
Reply to  ristvan
April 16, 2016 11:03 pm

What are the odds that if you tested the eight other pollens, you would find them less affected by CO2, yet the growth would be even higher. (Did they cherry pick?) Lab results from instantly changing the CO2 content, and from there harvesting or measuring right at the same growth phase, (comparing both base and increased CO2 bio-mass) before the increased biomass affect of additional CO2 concludes, can also skewer the nutrient content which may increase at more mature growth. Nevertheless, in all cases a slightly reduced nutrient density content (I have never seen the very 30% figure before) is in general associated with increased bio-growth and increased total nutrient that double or triples the slight nutrient density loss.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 15, 2016 1:25 pm

goldenrod ’cause that’s the data they had … no goldenrod where I live … lots of bees (native and otherwise).
But, faster growing stuff will cause changes. For better, worse, or benign. Those that solely focus on the bad are miss’n 75% of the potential information (o.k. ya, I just made up the 75%).
I’ve been waiting see a big ass study about how increased growth of Douglass fir will result in lower strength 2 x 6’s and how our timber industry will just go down into freefall … oh wait that already happened, to the gleeful cheers of the likes of Gore etal.

Reply to  DonM
April 16, 2016 4:11 am

I was 97% sure your 75% was made up.

David A
Reply to  DonM
April 16, 2016 11:11 pm

Don M 75% good eh?
1. Slight loss of nutrient density.
1. Increase in total nutrient with increase in bio-mass greatly exceeding slight loss in nutrient density.
2. No additional water required for increase in bio-growth and nutrients.
3. No additional land required for increase in bio-growth and nutrients.
(75% good on the money)

Reply to  DonM
April 23, 2016 12:29 pm

You probably won’t see this cause it is so late; 25% good, 50% benign, and the rest left for those with nothing better to do with their time.

Hexe Froschbein
Reply to  Tom Halla
April 17, 2016 7:50 am

Did anyone open up enough hives and take a sample of the winter stores?
Probably not, but it would be the only way to tell that there really is a problem. My guess is that the bees simply find other sources and ensure their mix of pollen is as it should be.
As a side note, some veteran bee keepers swear by removing the brood towards the end of the season to avoid the various foulbroods (US and EU), with the reasoning that at the end of the season there isn’t much bloom available anyway, and all you get is too many hungry (and useless) bees. Those hives seem to do just fine the next year (and also not get FB).
And in the spring, the bees have new pollen sources to raise the brood with, and if a new hive is started in the spring with even a small swarm(and also, if you like, as a top bar where the bees make their own frames from scratch), they usually do very well without stores. You can give them some sugar stores, but more often than not, they just dump it outside.
Color me ssssskeptical.

Albert Brand
April 15, 2016 12:04 pm

Another weasel word “overall protein concentration” not total protein for a particular
grain of pollen. It might just be much bigger and therefore have more protein.

Reply to  Albert Brand
April 15, 2016 12:37 pm

first thing I thought too Albert…..

Paul Westhaver
April 15, 2016 12:04 pm

I spoke too soon, Apparently increased CO2 will increase mosquitoes populations.
I bet CO2 increase hurts cute creatures and benefits mean creatures.
ie fewer bees, dolphins, panda bears, hedgehogs, and platypuses.
but more, mosquitoes, head lice, rats, pigeons, flesh eating bacteria, and Peter Gleicks

george e. smith
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
April 15, 2016 12:13 pm

Well Orcas are just ‘ Sea Pandas ‘ anyway !

Bill Powers
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
April 15, 2016 12:20 pm

Don’t forget Polar Bears. They might look at you as dinner but they are so cute and cuddly and that darn CO2 is killing them and well doggone it it is all your fault for driving automobiles you selfish knuckledragging, mouthbreathing louts. Because of you, Coke commercials will never be the same.

David A
Reply to  Paul Westhaver
April 16, 2016 11:15 pm

Paul, I am guessing the Arizona folk never checked out the mosquitos in Alaska.

April 15, 2016 12:16 pm

Maybe we could take a few spare million out of the “climate change trillion dollar spending spree” and find out a way to stretch bee tongues:

April 15, 2016 12:16 pm

Two different reactions. 1.CO2 fertilization will mean more goldenrod pollen to be eaten.
2. Late summer wild bloomers include sedges and milkweeds. Fall bloomers include asters, coneflowers and and various grasses like big and little bluestem. The second and third cuts of alfalfa in Wisconsin bloom late July and late September. The notion that goldenrod pollen is the main late summer early fall pollen source for bees is laughable.

Bruce Cobb
April 15, 2016 12:32 pm

They need to think up new reasons for why increased CO2 is “bad”, since the whole warming thing doesn’t seem to be panning out. Careers are at stake here, after all.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 15, 2016 12:42 pm

Not just the warming thing. The ocean acidifying thing, the accelerating sea rise thing, the increasing weather extremes thing. Ma Nature did not stay on message.

Reg Nelson
April 15, 2016 12:33 pm

Why didn’t they just add bees to the controlled CO2 experiments and see which bees fared better or worse at different CO2 levels?

Reply to  Reg Nelson
April 16, 2016 2:17 pm

better question is why didn’t they just go out and collect golden rod pollen as it is produced naturally in the field and see if it has lost any of its protein content? Even with the atmospheric increase in CO2? That would constitute a “control” on whether you are replicating all that needs to be replicated in order to conclude ANYTHING AT ALL from your “controlled experiment”

David A
Reply to  Reg Nelson
April 16, 2016 11:23 pm

Because that does not carry the funding appropriate message. (But you knew that) This is the second go around for bees, ( I forgot the reason for the first bee alarm) and like the first, this will also fail.
Just like the study saying driving your SUV will cause frogs to get smaller, followed by a second study saying frogs will get larger. (I guess they did not talk to each other) Billions of dollars purchase lots of results, disguised as science.

April 15, 2016 12:38 pm

These ‘experts’ really are desperate now aren’t they? Next up: “Increased CO2 leads to lower funding for climate scientists. Species may become extinct.”

Reply to  Sage Vals
April 15, 2016 1:06 pm

We can only wish…
Although to be fair, it is starting!

Bruce Cobb
April 15, 2016 12:44 pm

Uh oh, we will need to watch for hangry bees now. Mad bees will go on rampages, stinging everything in sight. And we’ll deserve it, because it will be our fault. Oh, the humanity.

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
April 15, 2016 6:44 pm

Hangry. Is that a Portmanteau of Hungry and Angry? I think I like that word. ^_^

Reply to  schitzree
April 16, 2016 4:15 am


michael hart
April 15, 2016 12:48 pm

Global warming will, allegedly, also lengthen the growing season.
What’s good for plants and mosquitoes should also be good for bees.
[I was going to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger was also telling us to eat less high-protein food to stave off global warming, but I won’t go there today.]

Eric J
April 15, 2016 12:50 pm

Looks like the same CO2/Protein Dilution thing will cause us all to gain too much weight! Oh No!
CO2 Rise Could Fuel Obesity As Plants “Carb Load”

April 15, 2016 1:06 pm

One way or another, climate change is going to kill bees…
It’s like there is a climate agenda or something!

Reply to  Neil
April 15, 2016 1:24 pm

Calling James Bond …..
…. please solve this dastardly evil conspiracy in Goldenrod the movie.

April 15, 2016 1:11 pm

Overall protein concentration :so if I put 1 gram of protein in 1 ml of sugar water, and compare it to 1 gram of protein in 2mL of sugar water, the protein concentration goes down… great news, we know that CO2 helps plants make carbohydrates .

Terry Gednalske
April 15, 2016 1:25 pm

Did they offer any theory of why increased CO2 concentration would reduce the protein content? If there is no plausible mechanism for the result, I would say the correlation is spurious. If they can manipulate the historical temperature records, which a lot of people are paying attention to, and get away with it; how much easier would it be to fake an experiment comparing CO2 and plant protein? Sorry, but I don’t believe either their results, or their conjectures regarding the possible consequences.

Gentle Tramp
April 15, 2016 1:33 pm

Ancient relatives of modern bees – which were pollen collecters as well – already thrived in the cretaceous period with much higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere than today. Bee fossils from that time can be found in amber, see e.g. here:comment image
So – How on Earth could these bees survive then ??? Why do climate alarmists always overlook obvious facts?

Reply to  Gentle Tramp
April 15, 2016 2:12 pm

“Why do climate alarmists always overlook obvious facts?”
If you really need to ask that, you don’t understand the lying bast …. well, you get the drift.

Gentle Tramp
Reply to  markstoval
April 17, 2016 5:54 am

Well, it was a rhetorical question of course… 😉
But I don’t think that all climate arlamists are simply “lying”. I guess, most of them are just free riders of a convenient science fashion and driven by usual group-think and confirmation bias.

April 15, 2016 1:43 pm

bees evolved in the tropics….trying to get them to over winter out of their normal range where they need late fall pollen is man’s fault

April 15, 2016 1:55 pm

They found that pollen protein levels dropped about a third in samples collected from 1842-2014, a period during which the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere rose from about 280 parts per million to 398 ppm.

I not a scientist; can someone tell me what might happen to pollen protein after being stored for 174 years? Why, in 1842 would anyone have bothered to do so?

Reply to  GTL
April 15, 2016 2:46 pm

GTL, great observation and question. I did some research. Beat finishing taxes today. Many old university botany collections contain ‘dried flowers’ from which old pollen could be obtained. Presumably golden rod is one. Harvard’s Peabody Museum has not only dried flowers, it,has blown glass replicas.
As to pollen protein content deterioration over time, I could find nothing on golden rod. But found several papers on ragweed pollen protein deterioration, plus a full chapter in a book. Written from 1933 to 1949. Ragweed pollen extract (the proteins) are used by immunologists to desensitize hayfever sufferers. My daughter had this treatment. The doses are very carefully calibrated increases over time. The problem the medical literature was investigating was ‘autolytic allergenic protein degradation’ over time causes by the associated pollen enzymes (enzymes are proteins also). Which meant dosing problems. The degradation rate at ambient was characterized, and then solutions explored. Final answers included shelf life expiration and dosing calculations calibrated to age of extract. So it is entirely plausible that protein degradation in old golden rod pollen also occurs.
It would be experimentally possible to check this hypothesis by growing golden rod in greenhouses with 280, 350, 400 (today ambient) instead of only 500ppm. One suspects Purdue did not because that might ruin their warmunist conclusion, which is laughable anyway since honeybees store up whenever abundant pollen as ‘bee bread’ no different than they store nectar as honey. There are some interesting beekeeping articles I read earlier this afternoon thanks to this post.

Reply to  ristvan
April 15, 2016 9:39 pm

Thank you Ristvan.

Reply to  ristvan
April 16, 2016 4:26 am

Or, could they have tested CO2 levels at 280ppm, 350ppm, 400ppm and 500ppm but just didn’t include the results?
Nah, they wouldn’t do that…would they?
Were liars like Mikey Mann or Petey Gleick involved?
Maybe for peer review?

April 15, 2016 1:58 pm

Bothered to store goldenrod.

Curious George
April 15, 2016 2:02 pm

A protein called Rubisco catalyzes a CO2 treatment in the photosynthesis. It is probably the most abundant protein of all. With a higher abundance of CO2, there is less need for a Rubisco, and a decrease in its concentration has been measured. I am not sure how much Rubisco there is in pollens.

April 15, 2016 2:09 pm

My bees are doing fine with the introduction of Himalayan Balsam into the UK. It’s an invasive plant, but a real boon for honey bees and wild ones.

Reply to  Gareth Phillips
April 15, 2016 2:23 pm

I hoped this thread would draw a beekeeper.

Reply to  Tom Halla
April 16, 2016 4:59 am

beekeepers offsider here too
and I find it pathetic so called research
anyone keeping bees in a cold climate, or even an Aussie winter period like now upcoming with a dry season prior, not much nectar OR pollen for a large part of the last season
WE FEED the Bees.
sugarwater if necessary and we make our own pollen substitute beebread.
last extraction rounds you ensure theyve got decent honey stores LEFT for them,
and you dont just lid em n walk away
you do at least fortnightly rounds to ensure theyre ok and healthy.
a lot of people have no idea the off season travel and handling can be almost as much as INseason. with no income during that time
but everyone wants cheap honey.
they might be tiny livestock 😉 but its a hard/heavy working and mostly thankless job

April 15, 2016 2:09 pm

Okay, I’ll demote Purdue on the college search list effort.

Bryan A
Reply to  Resourceguy
April 15, 2016 11:48 pm

Probably part of the school’s problem, too many first rate minds have demoted Purdue that it’s current flock of second and third rate thinkers are more concerned about stepping in the PurDoo than getting a quality education

April 15, 2016 2:35 pm

So Bees are only a modern species they couldn’t possibly survive earths higher Co2 levels of the past then could they ?

April 15, 2016 2:38 pm

Like everything else it is a lot more complicated than that. The overall losses of beehive colonies is declining
Drilling down into the data overall we are losing fewer bees on an annual basis.
Commercial bee hives have the stresses of the neonicotinoid insecticides, combined with hives being moved from crop to crop with the addition of mites that often lead to losses.
However each area of the country faces different challenges. Individual bee keepers face localized issues with loss of habitat an issue in some regions.–306817361.html?device=phone&c=y
We have a bee hive in northern Vermont. Our bees typically do not starve. But we have lost several hives to extremely cold weather. There are also predators who go after hives with bears being the worst. One hungry bear who gets through the electric fence will clean out the hive and destroy the hive box while they are at it. You really cannot start a new hive from July on here in Vermont since frost can arrive in August so the season is a major factor in replacing colonies.

Reply to  Keith
April 15, 2016 2:55 pm

Don’t keep bees on my Wisconsin Uplands dairy farm, although several neighbors do, one professionally for alfalfa honey. Do have several wild hives in old hollow oak trees on the farm woodlots. We get the occaisional wandering black bear, but our main bee problem is varroa mite.
The bees dont seem affected by nionicitinoid pesticides in the Uplands. The main use in our region is treated hybrid corn seed, which probably does’t expose the bees too much.

Reply to  ristvan
April 15, 2016 7:02 pm

The varroa mites killed my bees. I had four hives and gave up when they all died. I hope that epidemic is over. I miss my bees.
Interesting thing about bees: when you come near them, they buzz up and down, scanning you and then go about their business if they recognize you. Never got stung by any of them, any time, even when cutting grass around their hives and doing other chores.

Steve Fraser
April 15, 2016 2:40 pm

A link to a report this week that mentions that bees diversify their diet…

Reply to  Steve Fraser
April 15, 2016 2:57 pm

Steve: Thanks for the link. Everyone should take the time to familiarize themselves with the problem, and other research. I appreciate your diligence in posting it. Everything is not as one study claims.

Reply to  Steve Fraser
April 15, 2016 3:25 pm

Plus many. More new (to me) insight on honeybee behavior.

Mike the Morlock
Reply to  ristvan
April 15, 2016 4:23 pm

Hi ristvan
have ever come across Azaleas and Rhododendrons honey? AKA mad honey? I read of it years age in college.
Maybe the authors of this article got a hold of some.
Then again it might explain the whole CAGW movement.

Reply to  ristvan
April 15, 2016 5:17 pm

MM, ran across a credible paper concerning ‘mad honey’ from azaelias and rhododendrons, while searching bee stuff generally today thanks WUWT. Took note because my sig other Patricia has a cabin in N. Georgia, and we consume a lot of wild honey produced locally. ‘Mad Honey’ is from addition of ‘grayanotoxins” in the flower nectar of some plants. As you point out.
Was relieved to see it is not a north Georgia or Wisconsin problem, since the same spring flower season is the flowering of maples, apples, pears, peaches… So much diluted by bee foraging.
A problem in Turkey, Nepal, and a few other places with much narrower plant ranges that we neither visit nor buy honey from.
Great follow up true science post. Regards.

Reply to  ristvan
April 15, 2016 9:21 pm

While you are on the topic ristvan;
Look up Alexander the Great, who apparently lost some officers in Persia while feted by the recently conquered.
There is also a quote from the ‘Retreat of the Ten Thousand”: [Pg 73],
“Eighty of these formidable companies of heavy-armed foot-soldiers, each in single file, now began to ascend the hill; the light-armed foot-soldiers and bowmen being partly distributed among them, partly placed on the flanks.
Cheirisophus and Xenophon, each commanding on one wing, spread their light-armed foot-soldiers in such a way as to outflank the Kolchians, who accordingly weakened their centre in order to strengthen their wings.
Hence the Arcadian light-armed foot-soldiers and heavy-armed foot-soldiers in the Greek centre were enabled to attack and disperse the centre with little resistance; and all the Kolchians presently fled, leaving the Greeks in possession of their camp, as well as of several well-stocked villages in their rear.
Amidst these villages the army remained to refresh themselves for several days. It was here that they tasted the grateful, but unwholesome honey, which this region still continues to produce—unaware of its peculiar properties.
Those soldiers who ate little of it were like men greatly intoxicated with wine; those who ate much, were seized with the most violent vomiting and diarrhœa, lying down like madmen in a state of delirium.
From this terrible distemper some recovered on the ensuing day, others two or three days afterwards. It does not appear that any one actually died.”
One way to cure a sweet tooth…

April 15, 2016 2:42 pm

Honey bees have been around for more than 30 million years and have endured times when CO2 levels were higher than today. I have heard of bee shortages but several times I have had to pay bee keepers to remove hives and swarms of honey bees from my suburban property. There are no more hives on my property now but still plenty of bees to tend to the flowers. The bees seem to have plenty of pollen but I have seen no goldenrod growing in my neighborhood. If there is anything alien in the bee’s environment that is causing them problems it would have to be insecticides which I do not use on my property.

Ex-expat Colin
Reply to  willhaas
April 16, 2016 2:15 am

I raise wild bees…mainly leaf cutters. There are in the West about 250 different wild bee species. They work harder at pollinating than the honey bee and do not hive (thankfully). Their sting is mild to humans and they don’t want beer and other sweet stuff. They operate locally unlike honey bees.
The biggest nuisance I encounter in UK is the wasp…huge nests. They are meat eaters and will eat anything else of a similar size that flies…bees of any variety and if necessary their grubs. Quite a machine!

April 15, 2016 2:51 pm

It is interesting that current bee science can identify a dozen possible causes for the problems of the honey bees. But, all we have are a handful of possibly spurious correlations. Science just ain’t what it’s cracked up to be. Somehow, I expect more from a group of people that get government grants out the kazoo.

Gunga Din
April 15, 2016 2:59 pm

More CO2, less Goldenrod. Less Golderod, less need for allergy meds.
….Or something like that.
(I sure hope that doen’t make sense to anybody!8-)

April 15, 2016 3:18 pm

why can’t they just change the parameters of the model…
that should fix it

Reply to  Glenn999
April 15, 2016 10:16 pm

Or threaten anyone not loudly on board with time in a cage. That should fix it.

April 15, 2016 3:26 pm

Back in the 1920’s it was all about bee’s knees.
Now we think we should be worried about their food intake.
There seems to be no lack of bees in the “clover” growing in the right-of-way for the high tension towers adjoining my property.
I saw at least 3 types of bees doing what bees do today.
Big bumble bees, honey bees and some really small bees.
They seemed to be thriving.

Reply to  u.k(us)
April 15, 2016 10:24 pm

High voltage transmission lines. Remember that mass hysteria fueled by press and plaintiffs’ lawyers using jiggered data?

Reply to  u.k(us)
April 16, 2016 9:17 am

Not that anyone cares, but here is the “clover” I was referring to:
I guess it was Ground Ivy.

Reply to  u.k(us)
April 16, 2016 9:24 am

@ jamesbbkk,
I remember my parents telling me about a college student that came by, about 40 years ago , asking questions for a survey of people living near high-tension lines.
I’m still waiting for their follow-up survey.

Reply to  u.k(us)
April 16, 2016 10:07 am

Here’s a curiosity…
I’ve seen hawks and kestrels use the towers as a perch to ambush their prey, the songbirds feed freely in the right-of-way.
But when the geese from the local ponds are moving, they will not fly thru the wires, they fly over the top of the highest wires, even when it would be less strenuous to just fly thru them.

Tom Judd
April 15, 2016 3:53 pm

Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees
And the pollen and the PhD’s
And the research grants that they love
And a sugar daddy called Guv
Let me tell ya ’bout Carbon D’oxide in the sky
And an opportunistic buncha’ guys
And boatloads a’ money that they’d miss
If we didn’t believe crap like this
When I look into their deceptive eyes
It’s so very plain to see
That it’s time they learned that lotsa’ their claims
Are starting to sound contra-dic-tory
Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees
And the pollen and the PhD’s
And the research grants that they love
And a sugar daddy called Guv
When I look into their deceptive eyes
It’s so very plain to see
That it’s time they learned that lotsa’ their claims
Are starting to sound contra-dic-tory
Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees
And the pollen and the PhD’s
And the research grants that they love
And a sugar daddy called Guv
Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees
And the pollen and the PhD’s
And the birds and the bees
And the pollen and the PhD’s, ’bout the birds
And the bees
And the bees
And the bees

Reply to  Tom Judd
April 15, 2016 7:15 pm

Looks like it is possible to ruin any good old song.

phil cartier
April 15, 2016 4:02 pm

“The researchers noted, however, that this study only assessed pollen protein levels and did not look at the impact of protein reductions on bee health and populations.”
Ho Hum……zzzz. When you’ve actually done research on bees and find that goldenrod pollen is protein deficient for bees, then come back an publicize you’re paper.
A correct title for the paper would be: “Current Golden Rod Pollen Has Reduced Levels of Protein Compared to Samples Held From 1842 and later”.
Required first line scare language: “Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have reduced protein in goldenrod pollen, a key late-season food source for North American bees, a Purdue University study shows.”
Nothing was mentioned about how the changed levels were related to CO2 or bee health. I’d give it a big Incomplete.

Joel M
April 15, 2016 4:21 pm

Even if you believe this study, evolution of bees since the 1840s have been left out, completely

April 15, 2016 4:40 pm

That’s bad news for the bees but not for fossil fuels because there is no empirical evidence to relate climate change to fossil fuel emissions.

Geoff Sherrington
April 15, 2016 4:50 pm

The atmospheric CO2 concentration that matters for this study is the one next to the growing goldenrod, not the high elevation, well mixed Mauna Loa.
Numerous studies show that CO2 local to growing crops like corn vary all over the place ona time scale of hours. They are commonly higher than ML. CO2 is heavy and hangs around just above ground level. So, the range of controlled CO2 in this experiment might not be relevant to actual growing conditions. Their higher CO2 at 500 ppm might just be showing they are getting away from CO2 starvation at 280 ppm.
The experimental design is naive. You cannot easily compare a dynamic local system with an averaged global system. That is but one of the many problems with this half-done study.
Maybe it’s authors had in mind the Month Python “Eric the Half a Bee” .

April 15, 2016 4:54 pm

So glyphosate is ‘off the hook’ then.
Ah well, the wheel of blame keeps turning.

April 15, 2016 5:04 pm

I fail to detect any connection between growing goldenrod in carbon dioxide and global warming. We are told that CAGW will destroy us unless we spend huge amounts of money to study and mitigate it. But beekeeping interested these guys more than climate study so CAGW was forgotten and we learn that ragweed pollen is (or was) protein -rich. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against the scientific curiosity that led to this nor do I object to study of bees or to funding for such studies. This subject properly belongs in the Department of Agriculture who were apparently already at work on it when these climatists wedged themselves into the project. The climatists’ contribution was pure mission creep – using money earmarked for climate research for agricultural studies. Result was two research teams engaged in a project that one could easily manage, thereby doubling its cost.

Reply to  Arno Arrak (@ArnoArrak)
April 15, 2016 10:30 pm

The funding method and funding source aka stolen wealth are the root causes of the corruption of science in so many areas, an aspect of which you described plainly.

April 15, 2016 6:12 pm

Atmospheric CO2 has been much higher during most of the last 600 million years and bees did just fine. CO2 was much higher than now during three periods in the last 200 years (80,000 direct chemical CO2 bottle readings assembled by Ernst Beck), the most recent was in the 1940s when CO2 was up to 550 ppm (only 400 ppm at present). Clearly, despite what CO2 does to pollen, bees survived just fine. There is 50 times more CO2 in the oceans than in the atmosphere, as CO2 petitions 50 to 1 into water and even more so into seawater because of the complex buffer of seawater that neutralizes carbonic acid and thus enhancing CO2’s movement into seawater.
As we have not warmed in any significant way since 1988 in the atmosphere or since1998 at the surface, global warming is not a problem. Nonetheless, the current global temperature still favors CO2 leaving the oceans and entering the atmosphere.
And, it should no go unmentioned that CO2’s half-life is about five years and not the 200 or 1000 years proposed by the IPCC or NOAA.

Smart Rock
April 15, 2016 6:21 pm

Two things
1. I personally find it extremely hard to believe that anyone in 1842 possessed the technology to measure the protein content of goldenrod pollen with sufficient accuracy to compare with present day analyses.
2. Am I being obtuse (or just ignorant, which btw is my normal state about bees) when I state that I was under the impression that bees drink nectar from flowering plants, and that they pollinate by carrying pollen on their bodies from one nectar drink to another as an incidental benefit to the plants – symbiosis in action. If my simple visualization is correct, then the protein content of pollen has no effect on bees’ nutrition.
One of you well educated users, please correct me if I’m wrong. I’ve been wrong before and as a real scientist, have no trouble in admitting it. Unlike some we know…..

Reply to  Smart Rock
April 15, 2016 7:22 pm

I think what your are saying, SR, is like this. Children don’t get enough mud to eat, and they waste a lot of mud by tracking the stuff all over the house. I’m with you. I thought that pollen was used to pollinate plants. Now we learn that pollen is an entree. So, pollen is two, two, two things in one,
Another point of confusion is the weight of CO2. I thought CO2 was heavier than air, so what is it doing aloft, high in the atmosphere. Obviously, I am missing something important, here.

R Shearer
Reply to  Bob
April 15, 2016 7:56 pm

Diffusion is the answer to your confusion (entropy driven).

Reply to  Bob
April 15, 2016 9:15 pm

“Diffusion is the answer to your confusion (entropy driven).”
I love if when science and poetry come together.

R Shearer
Reply to  Smart Rock
April 15, 2016 7:58 pm

It would be nice to see a copy of the paper to find out the method of analysis. To your point 1, it could just be a matter of the old sample(s) having dried out or changed in some manner from age.

John F. Hultquist
April 15, 2016 9:22 pm

said a random commenter in the Internet
Too much protein might be bad for bee’s health. Bees may have been near a tipping point prior to onset of the Industrial Revolution. CO2 increases in the atmosphere from wood and coal burning may have saved bees from extinction. It could be that protein raises the uric acid levels and gives them gout. My next grant proposal will ask for $1/2M to determine gout induced decline in bee populations.

April 15, 2016 9:43 pm

Increases of 5 and 6 THOUSAND ppm, maybe. Article not accurate.

jammer usa
April 15, 2016 10:08 pm

Haven’t bees been around for millions of years? Even when various epochs had higher levels of CO2? Just asking.

Ex-expat Colin
Reply to  jammer usa
April 16, 2016 2:19 am

Yes…and these observers(?) are observing at a point in time that is at best almost immeasurable and at worst irrelevant. Amazing what a computer cannot tell you?

April 16, 2016 12:04 am

Will bees get as much support as those apparent drowning polar bears that are multiplying like rabbits ?
What about all those lovely birds massacred by bird blenders that only provide intermittent power while polluting the landscape with visual and highly disturbing noise .

April 16, 2016 2:19 am

“From 2006 to 2011, annual losses of managed honeybee colonies averaged about 33 PERCENT PER YEAR (my caps), according to the USDA-ARS”
Velly interesting. If there were, say, 3 billion honeybees, in five years time there would be about 12 million left. Those managed colonies must be having it tough.

Reply to  yippiy
April 16, 2016 3:07 am

Keepers are constantly splitting colonies which gives them two full colonies after a year or so.
The recent death valley flower bloom is anecdotal evidence that slightly warmer more CO2 times are better for bees.
It takes plant life a while to catch up on CO2 increases. Even if emissions stop increasing today, for the next few years the plants will still be sucking in the CO2 it has adapted to consuming, as in thicker stems leaves and roots. Added to the immediate benefit of needing less water and reproducing more.
In increased CO2 scenarios the portion consumed by plant growth rises exponentially too, yet models don’t seem to consider this
Slight warming, good for bees, it even makes it slightly easier to fly if the air is a bit warmer

April 16, 2016 3:13 am

I wonder how bees survived the MWP and previous warming periods and more relevant cold periods?
All of a sudden “climate change” something bees have been adapting to since we thought weather was god’s mood. ROFL.
I wonder how many billions El Nino wiped out… where are the massive die-offs during the Hottest Year Evah!
There is no relationship between global average temperature and Bee populations lol

April 16, 2016 5:17 am
“The discovery of a 100-million-year old bee embedded in amber — perhaps the oldest bee ever found”

Reply to  mwhite
April 16, 2016 7:35 am

It does always amaze me when the Loony Left keeps claiming that species that have survived 100 million years or more are suddenly going to die out tomorrow becuase the temperature went up by a degree. Just proves they are incredibly ignorant idiots.

Patrick MJD
April 16, 2016 6:26 am

I transported ~90,000 bees once, in about 1993/4-ish (UK). Some died enroute, but most of those that died was in conflict with other colonies in the area once released. After some attrition all colonies became stable. So migrating the colonies from Hampshire to Cornwall, a bit warmer further south, the bees seemed to be “OK”.

April 16, 2016 9:39 am
April 16, 2016 3:42 pm

““Our work suggests there is a strong possibility that decreases in pollen protein could contribute to declines in bee health, but we haven’t yet made that final link,” said Dukes, who is also director of the Purdue Climate Change Research Center housed in Discovery Park.”
Seriously, nothing to see here “our work suggests there is a strong possibility” So that is maybe a possibly then? Not a possible outcome of certainty, but a possible outcome of a guess.
No link to anything, just inane rambling
These papers are being solicited, there is no other good reason for such awful claptrap that dissolves immediately on contact with actual science.

April 16, 2016 5:23 pm

It’s a good thing that Israeli scientists have found that bees can forage for missing elements in their diets:
Problem solved.

April 16, 2016 5:26 pm

It’s a good thing that Israeli scientists have found that honey bees can forage for missing elements in their diet w/o any federal guidance:

April 16, 2016 9:54 pm

“Previous studies have shown that increases in carbon dioxide can lower the nutritional value of plants such as wheat and rice”
“Lower the nutritional value” turns out to mean “reduces the ratio of a couple of minerals to calories.” That counts as reducing nutritional value only if you assume that people continue to consume the same number of calories of the same food.
Doubling CO2 raises the yield of c3 plants, which most crops are, by about thirty percent. What the papers claiming decreased nutritional value are saying is that if calories produced per acre increase by 30% and zinc per acre (one of the minerals in question) increases by only 20%, then the concentration of zinc (per calorie) goes down so wheat has become less nutritious, threatening human nutrition.
My favorite recent example of how to lie while telling the truth.

ian m
April 17, 2016 5:31 pm

So the study was a inconclusive but the researchers could not come back with “inconclusive” for all their time and effort.
This means they have to dress the results into something that fits with the meme or needs further study
Sad really

Tom in Texas
April 18, 2016 7:08 am

Every year I chase the bees from the side of my house. I all have a large garden. There are many more blooms in late summer that feed the bees.

April 18, 2016 2:25 pm

I would translate that article as :”Is it too late for us to get in on the climate change grant gravy”?

Groucho Jones
April 18, 2016 3:34 pm

The idea that bees are manmade is beyond ridiculous.

%d bloggers like this: