Claim: Bumblebees decimated by climate change – but ignores recent pesticide study

From Florida State University and the “correlation is not causation unless we want to blame climate change” department.

A stinging report: FSU research shows climate change a major threat to bumble bees

Research from a team of FSU scientists helps explain link between climate change and declining bumble bee populations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — New research from a team of Florida State University scientists and their collaborators is helping to explain the link between a changing global climate and a dramatic decline in bumble bee populations worldwide.

In a study published Friday in the journal Ecology Letters, researchers examining three subalpine bumble bee species in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains found that, for some bumble bees, a changing climate means there just aren’t enough good flowers to go around.

The team examined the bees’ responses to direct and indirect climate change effects.

“Knowing whether climate variation most affects bumble bees directly or indirectly will allow us to better predict how bumble bee populations will cope with continued climate change,” said FSU postdoctoral researcher Jane Ogilvie, the study’s lead investigator. “We found that the abundances of all three bumble bee species were mostly affected by indirect effects of climate on flower distribution through a season.”

As the global climate changes gradually over time, delicately poised seasonal cycles begin to shift. In the Rocky Mountains, this means earlier snowmelts and an extended flowering season.

On the surface, these climatic changes may seem like a boon to bumble bees — a longer flowering season might suggest more opportunity for hungry bees to feed. However, Ogilvie and her collaborators found that as the snow melts earlier and the flowering season extends, the number of days with poor flower availability increases, resulting in overall food shortages that are associated with population decline.

“When researchers think about flower effects on bees, they typically consider floral abundance to be the most important factor, but we found that the distribution of flowers throughout a season was most important for bumble bees,” Ogilvie said. “The more days with good flower availability, the more bees can forage and colonies can grow, and the bigger their populations become. We now have longer flowering seasons because of earlier snowmelt, but floral abundance has not changed overall. This means we have more days in a season with poor flower availability.”

Declining bumble bee populations globally have long been cause for alarm among conservationists, who see the buzzy pollinators as a bellwether for the malign effects of a changing climate.

Ogilvie said these most recent findings contribute to a growing body of evidence for the grave ecological consequences of climate change.

“Declining bumble bee populations should be a warning about the expansive detrimental effects of climate change,” Ogilvie said. “Bumble bees have annual life cycles, so their populations show responses to change quickly, and many species live in higher altitude and latitude areas where the change in climate is most dramatic. The effects of climate change on bumble bees should give us pause.”

The damage inflicted by climate change on global pollinator populations is of particular concern for scientists, as these species are crucial to agricultural productivity and the propagation of natural plant communities.

As researchers work toward a better understanding of climate change and its ecological effects, the link between pollinator health and shifting climate processes is becoming impossible to ignore.

“Pollinator species around the world have been declining, but we are still learning about what might be causing declines,” said FSU Professor of Biological Science Nora Underwood, a coauthor of the study. “Although not all species are influenced in the same way, I was excited to be part of this study because we now have long-term data that shows changing climate is influencing bumble bees.”

While this research helps to confirm the long-presumed connection between climate change and bumble bee population decline, Ogilvie said that the findings indicate a more difficult path for conservationists than previously anticipated.

“I’m afraid that this research shows conservation will be even more complicated than expected,” she said. “In addition to the response of the target species, our findings suggest that we should be considering how a species’ food resources might be responding to climate change. For bumble bees in particular, we need to make sure that they have enough flowers available during the entire season.”

###

Meanwhile, in other science:

Pesticide reduces bumblebee colony initiation and increases probability of population extinction

Abstract

Pollinators are in global decline and agricultural pesticides are a potential driver of this. Recent studies have suggested that pesticides may significantly impact bumblebee colonies—an important and declining group of pollinators. Here, we show that colony-founding queens, a critical yet vulnerable stage of the bumblebee lifecycle, are less likely to initiate a colony after exposure to thiamethoxam, a neonicotinoid insecticide. Bombus terrestris queens were exposed to field-relevant levels of thiamethoxam and two natural stressors: the parasite Crithidia bombi and varying hibernation durations. Exposure to thiamethoxam caused a 26% reduction in the proportion of queens that laid eggs, and advanced the timing of colony initiation, although we did not detect impacts of any experimental treatment on the ability of queens to produce adult offspring during the 14-week experimental period. As expected from previous studies, the hibernation duration also had an impact on egg laying, but there was no significant interaction with insecticide treatment. Modelling the impacts of a 26% reduction in colony founding on population dynamics dramatically increased the likelihood of population extinction. This shows that neonicotinoids can affect this critical stage in the bumblebee lifecycle and may have significant impacts on population dynamics.

Bees play a vital role as pollinators in both agricultural and natural systems1,2,3,4. However, there is increasing concern about the state of wild bee populations. Nearly 10% of European bee species are currently considered threatened5 and bumblebees are declining on a global scale5,6,7,8,9. The cause of these declines is thought to be a combination of factors, particularly habitat loss10, parasites and diseases11,12,13, invasive species14, and climate change15,16. Pesticide use is also considered a major threat to wild bees17,18,19,20, and both laboratory21,22,23,24,25,26, semi-field27,28,29,30,31,32,33 and field studies34,35,36have found negative impacts of pesticides on bumblebee behaviour, reproduction and colony success. However, information on the impacts of pesticides on the key life history stages of wild bees is still lacking. Bumblebees, like solitary bees, have an annual lifecycle whereby reproductive females (queens) initiate a colony in the spring37. Bumblebee queens are functionally solitary at this stage and do not have a colony to buffer them from environmental stress. Success depends entirely on the queen’s survival and ability to initiate a colony and, as such, this represents a critical but vulnerable period in the lifecycle. Although bumblebee queens are likely to be exposed to a range of pesticides throughout their lifecycle, particularly when foraging in the early spring on flowering crops such as OSR, to date there has been no research on the impacts of pesticides on founding queens and their ability to initiate a colony. Rundlöf et al.34 found that neonicotinoid treatment of OSR crops resulted in a lack of brood-cell building in solitary bees, but the mechanism remained unexplored. Negative impacts of neonicotinoids on the reproduction of the honeybee Apis mellifera queen have also been found38,39, but honeybee colonies are perennial and the way in which this relates to the annual cycle in bumblebees remains unknown. However, given these results, it is vital that we understand the potential impacts of pesticides on bumblebee queens40,26 and the resultant implications for wild populations.

We examined the impact of thiamethoxam (a neonicotinoid insecticide) exposure on colony-founding bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) queens. Neonicotinoids are the most widely used class of pesticide in the world41 and thiamethoxam is one of three neonicotinoids currently under a European Union usage moratorium for flowering, bee-attractive crops. Neonicotinoids have been implicated in the decline of wild bees20, butterflies42 and other taxa43. A range of regulations on the use of neonicotinoids have also recently come into force in North America. Therefore, research on the risks to beneficial insects associated with exposure to these compounds has important global policy implications.

In addition to the potential threat from pesticide exposure, bumblebee queens are faced with a range of environmental stressors that can reduce their survival and fitness. Before initiating a colony in the spring, queens must first survive hibernation over winter, during which time they can lose up to 80% of their fat reserves44, which may make them vulnerable to additional stress. Little is known about the overwintering survival of bumblebee queens in the wild, but studies in the laboratory have shown that a range of factors, such as pre-hibernation weight45,46, hibernation duration46 and the genotype of the queen and her mate47,48, can be important. Furthermore, exposure to parasites and pesticides can also impact hibernation survival40 and parasites have been shown to affect the post-hibernation success of queens. For example, Crithidia bombi, a prevalent trypanosome parasite of bumblebees, has a context-dependent impact on its queen host49. Under laboratory conditions, parasitized queens lost up to 11% more mass during hibernation and had up to a 40% reduction in fitness compared with uninfected queens49.

In natural environments, bumblebee queens face not only potential pesticide impacts, but also other simultaneous environmental stressors. To reflect this, we investigated the effects of thiamethoxam exposure on Bterrestris queens and tested for interactions with two natural environmental stressors: infection with the parasite Cbombi and variation in hibernation duration. To extrapolate our results to field populations, we used a Bayesian framework to assess their implications for population sustainability.

Full study – open access: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41559-017-0260-1

Color me unimpressed about the climate change to bumblebee link. Otherwise, how would we have bees today after the Medieval Warm Period?

 

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113 thoughts on “Claim: Bumblebees decimated by climate change – but ignores recent pesticide study

  1. Whatever disaster it is, earthquake, hurricane, coral bleaching, insect deprivation, polar bear loss, glaciation shortfall, icebergs, hot summers, hot winters, cold summers, cold winters, malaria outbreaks, you can rely on it that it will be known to be caused by Global Warming, Climate Change, or CAGW. Please send us lots of money now or you will die horribly.

    • Now that the polar bears aren’t dying, the bumble bees have to step into the fray.

      The joy of being an expert is that you can always find facts that will bolster any crazy theory you choose to espouse.

      No sane expert doubted that fat was the worst thing for your heart until Ancel Keys died. link

      Challenging any of the conventional wisdom on dietary fat has long been a form of professional suicide for nutrition experts.

      The majority of experts can be wrong. They’ve done it often. We derided the Soviet Union because of Lysenko but we produced Keys and Hansen.

      And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
      Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
      Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

      Scientists insist that science is only about facts in spite of ample evidence to the contrary. Disgusting hypocrites!

      • commieBob: Science is about facts—the ones that fit the theory one is peddling. I don’t recall scientists saying science is about ALL facts, taken as whole. At least not in the last five or six decades.

  2. “Before initiating a colony in the spring, queens must first survive hibernation over winter, during which time they can lose up to 80% of their fat reserves44, which may make them vulnerable to additional stress.”

    If Spring is coming earlier, that means a shorter hibernation and should lead to increased survival.

  3. I cuss the bumble bees (ground hornets, honey bees, and carpenter bees) that loiter around my hummingbird feeders. Ain’t no shortage of any of them where the Illinois meets the Mississippi.

    • You don’t like carpenter bees. I do. They chase wasps and hornets away from my house. I know they are pests to some people, but I’d rather have the carpenter bee than the wasp as a neighbor. They are stingless bees. The male has a shield on its forehead that it uses as a weapon to slam into an invading wasp. The noise is loud.
      I suggest you provide a thick wooden plank for them to burrow into and give them their own nectar resource away from your hummingbird feeders… unless, of course, you prefer wasps.

      • Sara: But the wasps are so much fun to do in with one of those battery-operated bug zappers (looks like a tennis racket)! When they drop in through the doggie door, I wait for them to land on the screen or wall and then Zap! Wasps are tough, however, and are only stunned this way. They must be sent to visit the sewer system immediately or may return to the door for round two.

      • Are you too gutless to kill them outright, or do you prefer the thought inflicting further misery on them before they die?

      • Gee, I only cuss them for drowning in the nectar. I let the carpenter bees turn my front porch rails into peg board. Fun to watch them greet visitors and interact with the hummingbirds.

    • I occasionally take the ferry across those rivers. Right where the rivers meet, the ferry stirs up the Asian carp and they put on quite a show. My son likes to take a look at your namesake bird on the bluff while we’re there, too. Other than that, not much to see, except beautiful countryside, parks, quaint towns full of friendly people. Beautiful country there, Pop.

  4. So as the flower availability season extends, the number of days with poor flower availability increases. What!?.

      • Yes, this study sounds seriously flawed. More poor flowering days is not a pertinent measurment unless they find LESS GOOD days as well as more poor days. ie what used to be a good day is now a poor day. Thought that does not seem to be what they are reporting.

        What is sounds like is that they are trying to report more good days + more poor days as being a problem.

      • I don’t think they are predicting more good days. They are predicting that the “good days” will come earlier, and which implies that the number of poor days between the pulses of good days will increase.

        An interesting theory, but it needs to be proven, it can’t just be assumed.
        If CO2 increases the number and size of grasses, then there will be more flowers from them throughout the year.

      • My take is that they report –
        ‘no change in the number of flowers’;
        ‘an increase in the number of flowering days’.
        So – although not spelled out – logically, if the average flower life is unchanged, then fewer flowers available on any given flowering day, on average.
        Same number of flowers, of unchanged lifespan, spread over more days.

        I may have misunderstood, and they actually say “Send more money” (do all scientific [sensu lato] papers say that?).

        Even if I have not misunderstood, and there really are more flowering days,
        – is the flower lifespan unchanged?
        – is there the same number of flowers?

        These two seem not touched on in their abstract: –
        “Climate change can influence consumer populations both directly, by affecting survival and reproduction, and indirectly, by altering resources. However, little is known about the relative importance of direct and indirect effects, particularly for species important to ecosystem functioning, like pollinators. We used structural equation modelling to test the importance of direct and indirect (via floral resources) climate effects on the interannual abundance of three subalpine bumble bee species. In addition, we used long-term data to examine how climate and floral resources have changed over time. Over 8 years, bee abundances were driven primarily by the indirect effects of climate on the temporal distribution of floral resources. Over 43 years, aspects of floral phenology changed in ways that indicate species-specific effects on bees. Our study suggests that climate-driven alterations in floral resource phenology can play a critical role in governing bee population responses to global change.”

        I note there is some data in there, as well as modelling, so two cheers.

        And, as noted, if they got through the MWP without all going extinct, they’ll survive a bit longer.
        If the parasites and the chemicals don’t get them.

        Auto

      • Agreed Greg!

        Far too many vague waffle words in both alleged bumble bee research studies.

        Ya gotta love the cheek on this one:

        “We found that the abundances of all three bumble bee species were mostly affected by indirect effects of climate on flower distribution through a season.”

        “Indirect effects of climate”!?
        “On flower distribution through a season”!?

        And where is the study proving climate “indirect effects”?
        Plus the research on how those climate “indirect effects” change “flower distribution”?

        Two gross confirmation bias assumptions that the new bumble bee research depends upon for indirect cause.

        Then another “neonicotinoids are evil” and killing all of the bees bizarre claim. After the eco-loon green groups failed dismally trying to prove neonicotinoids are killing honeybees; now they’re trying to prove neonicotinoids are killing bumble bees that love collecting pollen from non-crop unsprayed plant sources.

    • Total number of flowering days increased minus good flowering days (unchanged) equals more poor flowering days. Big deal. Poor flowering days worse than no flowering days?

      .If neonicotinoids are affecting pollinator numbers it’s because they’re killing off food weeds, ie- reducing habitat for the pollinators.

      • Good point on killing off flowering weeds. We did that with milkweed. It was declared a noxious weed and people set about destroying it. I remember asking “Won’t that be bad for the monarchs?” Well, yeah, it was and is. Now they encourage people to plant specific varieties for the monarchs. I leave a patch growing in my yard for just that reason.

        (States do still try to irradicate the other varieties of milkweed, however.)

        If only some genius could turn weeds into biofuel at a reasonable cost, we’d not need many herbicides and we would have a huge supply of fuel that few eat.

      • Total number of flowering days increased minus good flowering days (unchanged) equals more poor flowering days.

        The total number of “flowering days” …… is species specific.

        If it is a “late spring”, the apple tree will “bloom” later than normal and the “blooms” will fall off after a specified number of days followed by the quick growth of leaf foliage.

        If it is an “early spring”, the apple tree will “bloom” earlier than normal and the “blooms” will fall off after a specified number of days followed by the quick growth of leaf foliage.

        And most important of all, …… the number of hours/minutes of daily Sunshine/Sunlight has more to do with controlling when a plant “blooms” than does air temperatures.

    • If you assume that the number of flowers is fixed, then is stands to reason that if you increase the number of days in which plants can flower then you will decrease the number of flowers available on each day.

      The mistake is assuming that then number of flowers is fixed.

      • Are the flowers that bumblebees prefer exempt from the world-wide greening that has been observed/measured in recent decades? if so, then it’s the fault of Donald Trump’s election! If not, won’t there be more flowers?

    • That does make sense, however, why is “poor flower availability” worse than “no flower availability”?

      oh what a tangled web we weave….

  5. I reject that there is any bumblebee decline and file the whole thing under junk science. If anything, there seems to be more of them in around every year in this area near Edmonton. Nor has the snow melt in the spring changed. it drags on just the same every year, and most people are just as sick of hanging around as usual.

    • No shortage of bumble bees here in Central England either. The idea of some accurate, meaningful global bumble bee census simply doesn’t pass the smell test.

      And then when somebody starts trying to attribute this supposed global decline to a single cause it becomes preposterous. Not everywhere in the world is warming, not everywhere uses insecticides, local population dynamics can create rapid swings for no apparent reason….the list of holes that can be easily poked in the argument is long. There is no real science in these claims, just politics coupled with vivid imaginations.

    • Rob,
      Might they be migrating northward along with the northward migration of planting seasons?

      • They are going to be in for rude awakening if they do. The farmers seem to be getting squeezed at both ends this last couple of years. With planting season being a couple weeks later, and what seems like winter coming earlier. We are suppose to be getting 5 to 10 centimeters of snow in the next 24 hours. We already had a bout two weeks of rain mixed with snow, and cold temperatures, but last week was like nice early fall weather.

  6. Insect winter survival appears to depend upon the winter’s temperature extremes more than its length, from my observation. I suspect that extreme cold would cause a severe depletion of the survivors’ food stores.

  7. So it’s not the canary in the coal mine it’s the bumblebee in the flower field. Or is it the bumblebee in the flower field is the new canary in the coal mine?

  8. Yes…and simple mathematical models of rigid wings show that bumble bees can’t fly. It’s all in how the models are set up. I could develop a model that shows how AGW will turn bumble bees into killer bees. Send money now.

  9. The trouble with research is that to get a grant you need a pre conceived notion of the cause of a problem. I talked to a bee keeper and he maintained the most significant cause of the problem was not climate change or pesticides but large scale monoculture that created a glut at some times and a critical shortage at others. I have never seen any studies on this so i would be interested to see one if any readers know of one.

    • I talked to a bee keeper and he maintained the most significant cause of the problem was ……

      David Cage, if the “problem” you are referring to is CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) then I don’t think they have ever determined the cause of it.

      They call the “problem” Colony Collapse simply because the colony or “hive-full-of-honeybees“ collapses, …… meaning all or most all of the honeybees in a particular hive just kinda disappears without a “trace” of dead honeybees anywhere to be found either inside or outside of the hive.

      And what that tells me is, those honeybees left the hive to go on a forging trip to find pollen …… but couldn’t find their way back home to their hive.

      In other words, their biological GPS “screwed-up” and thus their “homebound” (beeline) coordinates were FUBAR and they just flew off into the wild blue yonder never to be heard from again.

      Unless they can trap or find some of those “wayward” flying honeybees for studying, the cause of CCD will remain a mystery.

  10. We had lots of bumblebees in Gloucestershire in England, despite the very hot summers in 2003 and 2006 and the very cold winters of early 2009 and 2009/2010. However, we didn’t use pesticides and herbicides in our quite large garden. Correlation? or something else?

  11. Bumble bees in New Zealand are very useful for pollinating red clover crops for seed production .The growers tell me that it is not a good idea to grow red clover seed crops in extensive fields but to plant in small fields along side river banks where the bumble bees can make nests .There are people in New Zealand who are breeding bumble bees for sale .We also export queen honey bees around the world .Insecticides can kill bees if applied to flowering crops and varoa mite can decimate hives if controls are not undertaken .. This study leaves a lot out and these researches should communicate with apiarists and learn the fundamentals of the bee world before they blame global warming.

    • “….these researches should communicate with apiarists and learn the fundamentals of the bee world before they blame global warming.”

      No, no, no, three times no. How can they get funding if they do that?

    • What? Communicate with beekeepers? With people who actually know something about bees???? Are you mad, man?

    • I am sure that changes in ag practices are affecting all bees. The trends towards larger fields and the predominance of wind-pollinated crops such as corn and other grains can result in large bee barren areas. The practice of mowing roadside could also be a factor. The wide equipment that is used today means that farmers can cultivate much closer to soft spots without the danger of becoming stuck. This further reduces habitat diversity. One solution could be planting bee-friendly varieties every mile or so. even small acreages can support large populations.

    • The CAGW industry is economizing and attempting to improve productivity. Take the four letter word (that’s not what I mean) ‘bear’ and lop off the ‘ar’ and replace with a single ‘e.’ Voila, a more efficient three character word for the new corporate trademark.

      Now, if only they’ll engage in a restructuring.

      • Actually, the state of IL will be funding my neighbor to plant a large portion of his land in bee and butterfly supportive flora. A good thing for all of us nearby..

  12. These guys do know Bees have been around for 130 millions, even surviving that pesky little K-T extinction asteroid event….Global Warming?… really?….this article did say they were scientists… right?

    • “.Global Warming?… really?….this article did say they were scientists… right”

      The article is likely correct, as “were” is past tense.

      • Hubris and ignorance is very high at FSU is these “scientists” really think Bee’s are in trouble….

  13. I did a bumble bee count last year on my farm and there were 3291 all were tagged. This year there are exactly the same amount so I don’t think we are affected in Australia.
    Update: One did have a broken leg so statistically this confirms the study’s accuracy.

  14. One study just looks at the possible effects of climate change, the other includes climate change as a driver, one of many. Studies can legitimately be inclusive or exclusive of variables. I have no comment on the conclusions.

  15. I want a grant to conduct a study to show how climate changes causes …………….. Put bad thing in space provided. Do not put a good thing in space or cheque will not arrive in post.

    In my garden in summer, there are usually more bees and bumblebees than you can shake a stick at.

    • Almost correct they don’t try to establish a cause they just try to connect a correlation. We all know it’s the lack of pirates that is causing global warming

  16. And not a word about the real cause of bee population decline: the parasites carried by the variola mite infecting the colonies.

  17. Many animals prey on bumblebees, such as spiders. We have no idea what the newly discovered spiders Spintharus davidattenboroughi, S. barackobamai, S. michelleobamaae, S. berniesandersi and S. leonardodicaprioi are capable of. Having said that their influence seems to be limited to few tropical islands nowadays. But, a bit like spiders in general, over 250 species of bumblebees seem to be widely spread:

  18. Decimation: punishment meted out in the Roman army to larger groups not performing to expectations. One out of every 10 soldiers was killed. So a ‘decimation’ is a 10% reduction in numbers.
    At least that is what it used to mean.

  19. The neocortinicoid study has been widely debunked. The claims made do not remotely match the study’s own data. The actual data in the study shows that the use of pesticides is largely beneficial to bees if anything.

  20. bee population collapse is a fact.
    But no one really knows why it is happening.

    However anyone who studies large areas of monoculture can tell you that ALL insect life is pretty much absent from a wheat field..

    • “…all insect life is pretty much absent from a wheat field”..

      Excuse me, Leo Smith, but have you actually BEEN to an cultivated fields lately? Just asking, because I have yet to see a LACK of insects in wheat, oats, rye, corn or any other grain crop fields including soybeans, all of which are wind pollinated crops. I do, in fact, have photographs of bugs on corn plants trying to get corn fructose out of the immature ears before they ripen and harden.

      There’s bugs all over the place, Leo, including the monoculture areas. Obviously, you don’t understand the sources of the food on your plate.

    • Wheat is wind pollinated so you’re not likely to see any insects at “work” in a such a field (unless they’re eating it)

      James Bull

  21. “Climate change”- it means anything you want it to, yet means nothing at all.”Climate change” has become the all-purpose whipping boy and the causes of “climate change” are whatever and whoever anyone deems to be “guilty.” It is only a matter of time before “deniers” are incarcerated or executed. This is why we must all be trying to wake up the People before it gets to this stage.
    It is not the first time this “Spanish Inquisition” scenario has played out. It is we, who are soon to be persecuted who must reveal the treachery behind the “climate change” lunacy before we are assumed to be guilty of whatever the warmists deem us to be “guilty” of.

  22. Jon Entine addressed this disparity between field and lab research in a series of articles at the Genetic Literacy Project, and specifically summarized two dozen key field studies.

    “Some, but not all, results from lab research have claimed neonics cause health problems in honeybees and wild bees, endangering the world food supply. This has been widely and often breathlessly echoed in the popular media—remember the execrably reported Time cover story on “A World Without Bees.” But the doses and time of exposure have varied dramatically from lab study to lab study, so many entomologists remain skeptical of these sweeping conclusions. Field studies have consistently shown a different result—in the field, neonics seem to pose little or no harm. The overwhelming threat to bee health, entomologists now agree, is a combination of factors led by the deadly Varroa destructor mite, the miticides used to control them, and bee practices. Relative to these factors, neonics are seen as relatively inconsequential.”

    “The broader context of the bee health controversy is also important to understand; bees are not in sharp decline—not in North America nor in Europe, where neonics are under a temporary ban that shows signs of becoming permanent, nor worldwide. Earlier this week, Canada reported that its honeybee colonies grew 10 percent year over year and now stand at about 800,000. That’s a new record, and the growth tracks the increased use of neonics, which are critical to canola crops in Western Canada, where 80 percent of the nation’s honey originates.”

    https://rclutz.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/the-alarmist-beehive/

  23. Blossoming is seasonal. Bees are not. All species of pollinators have several alternate food sources that allow them to survive from year to year. Unless all of these are identified and accounted for in the study, it is all just wool-gathering. When I was at the University of Texas there was a beehive kept on the top floor of Welch Hall (the Chemistry building). Those bees thrived quite well on dregs of soft drink cans, which were quite plentiful around the university all year round.

  24. So proclaimith: FSU postdoctoral researcher Jane Ogilvie:

    We now have longer flowering seasons because of earlier snowmelt, but floral abundance has not changed overall. This means we have more days in a season with poor flower availability.”

    It is really becoming quite obvious to me that a big majority of the present day research-publishing females have serious mental limitations whenever their “research projects” require them to utilize …… common sense thinking, logical reasoning and/or intelligent deductions.

    “DUH”, whenever there is “earlier snowmelt” then of course one can claim there will also be a “longer flowering season”, ….. but only if said “flowering season” includes all the different species of flowering plants.

    And “DUH”, the only way to increase the “floral abundance” in a particular locale …. would be to increase the number, quantity or acreage of one (1) or more species of flowering plants.

    And it is asinine to claim that …… “earlier snowmelt means that there will be more days in a season with poor flower availability” …….. unless you also claim there is a species of flowering plant that absolutely, positively will only “bloom” if there is snow covering the ground.

    • They don’t define “earlier snowmelt”, you know. That makes it a trigger word for panic attacks. It also tells us that they don’t take weather into account at all.

  25. Earlier snowmelt? Would these “researchers” like to see the snow on my front steps and front lawn in March and April this year? Seriously, what planet are they living on?

    I’d just like to point out that the oldest bee fossil found so far was discovered in 2006 in a mine in Burma. https://www.livescience.com/4255-oldest-bee-fossil-creates-buzz.html

    It seems that bees, while rather delicate critters themselves, are a lot more resilient as an insect genus than these researchers can possibly imagine. They also haven’t taken into account the halictids, a very pretty group, which are good wild pollinators that very vaguely resemble wasps but are definitely bees.

    The narrow focus of these researchers is even more clouded than I had realized, and it is impaired by their need to be politically correct and blame the Bogey Man for everything that’s wrong. I am tired of their sheer ignorance, but I realize that we need to know just how ignorant they really are.

  26. Both studies ignore the fact that the number of bee colonies in the US peaked in the mid 40’s and had been steadily declining for decades prior to the discovery of CCD, and the number has risen since it was identified. They also ignore that worldwide, bee populations went up 60% from 1961 to 2013. There’s just no correlation, much less causation.

    A significant portion of beehives die off every winter. Most of us in the general public didn’t know this more than a decade ago. When that percentage went up, the press announced it as if almost all die-offs were due to CCD, and has been pushing the claim of an imminent eradication of bees and subsequent damage to the food supply ever since.

  27. Government funded science requires that research ignore any results that do not support the predetermined political conclusion. Today’s scientists and intellectuals are very similar to the educated clergy of the monarchs of yore who provided legitimacy to the king’s right to rule by divine providence. It is much easier to bilk the peasants by having them voluntarily give up their money than by taking it at sword point.

  28. Do climate scientists find these bees chained to areas, unable to fly and locate new pollen sources? Are there invisible bee fences (like one uses with dogs—wires and cute tiny collars on the bees)? I am appalled that biologist have so very little understanding of nature. I’d ask if these people ever actually went outside, but the answer is obviously, “NO”.

  29. Conspicuously absent in all of these climate change/species impact studies is a quantification of exactly how the climate has changed in the location of the study. While we correctly point out that correlation is not causation, we are not even aware if there is any correlation!

    At least 100 years of climate data should be provided and considered, just to determine if the climate has changed beyond the variability of weather.

  30. IMO the research is not (quite) as crazy as it sounds, once you leave out the CAGW nonsense.

    For bumblebees the problem is not the beginnning of the flowering season but its end. After early July most plants are busy making seeds and fruits. The supply of nectar inevitably gives out, as this recent research on bees and the silver lime tree indicates.

    http://figures-of-speech.com/2017/09/scrapbook.htm#f

    If we want to help bee colonies we should encourage the spread of late flowering plants that, if the season really is extending, whether from weather pattern or climate changes, allow bees to continue feeding as late as possible.

    • I don’t know what’s available where you live, but in my area there are plenty of late-blooming wildflowers that are abundant honey sources. Examples are compass plant, sunflowers, wild asters, spurge, listaria, coreopsis, goldenrod, milkweed, lady’s thumb and thistles, to name just a few. Since it’s October, most of the summer flowers are gone, but there are still available the flowering plants listed above as well as others that will go on until the first frost. I suggest that you become more familiar with the wildflower species in your area and do a survey of them.

      Also, all bees collect nectar and pollen. They don’t just “feed” on it at the plant in situ. Bumblebees tend to make nests rather than hives and while the queen will winter over underground, she will still need food (honey and pollen) to get her through winter.

  31. We now have longer flowering seasons because of earlier snowmelt, but floral abundance has not changed overall. This means we have more days in a season with poor flower availability.”

    Does it really ?

    They obviously must have data on flower abundance to make that statement, so why don’t they give statistics of the change in the number of good flower days rather than infering what they think it implies about the number of poor days and then adding a second level of unstated but implied assumptions about what this means about good days.

    This is such contorted logic to arrive at a catastrophic conclusion that I suspect they have not even looked at the what the data actually shows, assuming they actually have any data.

    • Yes, really, I haven’t seen that much pure ignorance about a subject in a long time. I do not believe these so-called researchers ever go outside unless they are forced to.

    • Oh, I am sure they have data, but most likely that data has been “adjusted,” like most pro-AGW climate data. (READ: “FAKED”). How can any reliable conclusions be made when so much of the data has been falsified?
      Moreover, why should we believe anything these “scientists” say?

  32. Is this UK study the one that selected results they wanted ? And had to give the whole 1000 pages to the sponsoring entity who discovered their bias ?
    There may be a prior post here or at JoNovas .

  33. But we were told we had to ban lawn pesticides because of the decline of bumble bees. Now global warming is causing the decline of bumble bees. Next week will be the debate Coke VS Pepsi is causing the decline of bumble bees.

  34. More CO2 means bigger plants, which would presumably mean more flowers during their respective blooming seasons.

  35. If anyone wants to attract bumblebees allow some belladona to grow. I have a large patch that was loaded with them. Belladona is very poisonous I understand however. I live in western NY. Warm summer, cold winter.

  36. There will be more CCD this coming NH Winter-Spring. It will be largely from COLD and unseasonal weather. As a plant pathologist etc., I have only contempt for this unscientific paper, but it is all an too common example. Commercial bee numbers are rocketing up where markets are good….

    • “As a plant pathologist etc., I have only contempt for this unscientific paper, but it is all an too common example.”

      I agree, and I’m not a plant pathologist, just someone who hikes a lot with a camera, and makes notes about what I see. So how do people like me, who know better, and you, who have backup for disputing the nonsense in that paper, put a stop to it?

      I’m getting seriously tired of the utter baloney I see published as a means of getting more cash.

      A valid study has consistent results, shown over time. There’s nothing valid in anything I’m seeing.

  37. I guess maybe the bumble bees up north, here in Central WI are hardier that FSU bumble bees. I can look out over a small patch of New England Aster, and watch a dozen or more bees working the flowers. Or maybe those “bees” are a look-alike species that are not in fact, bees. But factor in that the Northern tier of states are colder than FL will ever bee (sic) in a thousand lifetimes, global warming or not.

  38. We have a large garden which also includes various wild flowers chosen to attract pollinators. We have had this for over 20 years. What I notice is that the abundance of different types of bumblebee vary from year to year. The populations vary depending on weather especially if there is a late freeze. The warm winter has the least impact on bumble bees.

    My observation is that bumble bee populations are robust in areas where they have habitat that includes wild flowers. Many of the flowers people plant around their homes are not friendly to bumble bees or pollinators in general. Often the flowers people plant are bred to have certain shape and color of flower or even to produce less pollen so that cut flowers don’t make as much of a mess in the house or vase – for example dropping yellow dust.

    In farming areas, bumble bee populations are often low. This I think is due to intense farming and use of pesticides and use of herbicides. The wild flowers that the bumble bees need are killed. Even if they are farming something that has a flower that is attractive to bumble bees, they periodically use pesticide and kill the pollinators. But perhaps more importantly, the crop all blooms at the same time providing food for only a short time. Then there is no additional food given all the wild flowers (weeds) have been killed.

    If they would like to keep wild pollinators in an area, the farmers should plant small areas with various wild flowers which are native to the area, attractive to pollinators and bloom at different times during the year that offer oasis to the pollinators. For example, along fences or ditches adjacent to the field. Then be very careful not to get pesticides or herbicides on those oasis and also be certain not to use pesticides during periods when a crop is blooming (should they plant something that blooms and is attractive to bees).

    If the world were to get warmer, what would happen is that some bumble bees would do better than others and the populations would shift. Overall, I don’t think it would not reduce bumble bee numbers. Certainly warmer winters usually mean more bumble bees in the spring.

  39. There is currently no problem with bees in Australia. How can this be as Australia must be ‘affected’ by climate change the same as any other country?

  40. I was just about to say something out of ignorance.
    I was going to say that bees are not native to North America.
    I paused and checked first.
    I was wrong.

    It is the honey bee that is not native to North America.

    To return North America to it’s pristine, before Columbus state, we need to develop a pesticide that will only kill honey bees?

    (I think a carpenter bee ate my sarc tag)

  41. “…exposed the queens to field-relevant levels…”

    Umm, excuse me, I thought the Worker bees went out into the fields, and the Queens stayed back in the hive and made more bees. Hives are not found in the fields being treated with pesticides, as a rule. Hives are found in Trees, or, in commercial agriculture, in portable hives on a truck.

    Don’t let them sneak this by us!

  42. Having been on periphery of the honey bee hive collapse/ bumble bee colony decline controversy for several decades beware of all such research. Environmentalists and their supported scientists, both in the EU and the USA, have tried to blame pesticides especially neonicotinoids for decades on bee problems, especially colony collapse. That also got them into basically using bees as a charismatic fauna. I haven’t reviewed all the latest on bumble bees but honey bee colony collapse turns out to be as much poor hive management as anything. Like several others that commented I have lots of different bee species in my yard also this spring and summer some 15 butterfly species. I would note that there are three primary users of pesticides, mosquito control, golf courses and agriculture. Mosquito control never wants to put “product” anywhere it will not be effective controlling mosquitoes. Why? they have extremely limited budgets and insecticides are their largest cost item. Golf courses have dramatically reduced their pesticide use; going to integrated pest manage years ago; again chemicals cost money. Farmers do not want to use anything that kills ANY pollinator, be it honey bee, bumble bee or solitary bee. However since the days of Carson, when all else fails blame pesticides. As for climate change, well even if it is changing rapidly, most insects are well adapted to the change to maintain their populations. They may have a few bad years but all else being equal they will adapted to the latest changes.

    • Neonics have been widely used since the mid-90’s but now have become the favorite target for NGO’s, when they supposedly started killing bees (don’t know why didn’t before). As you say, most of the problem is poor hive management, such as here in MS where someone put out their hives in a pine forest and then can’t figure out why the bees died. Most of the hive failures are from lack of adequate forage, and the bees starve to death.

  43. There’s been a massive drop of honeybees & bumblebees here in Colorado over the decades. Recent years, it’s mostly all yellowjackets now (although finally saw some h-bees few weeks ago).

  44. When you substitute lovely oily oil for whale oil and the whales come back in numbers that means more natural dead whales and that means….

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-29/crocodile-feeding-frenzy-on-huge-kimberley-whale-carcass/9001166

    http://www.msn.com/en-au/news/world/there-are-no-words-tourists-spot-hundreds-of-polar-bears-swarming-whale-carcass-in-siberia/ar-AAsDIPA

    So putting a Tiger in the Tank means nice Japanese folks and polar bears can have more sustenance and the crocs make nice handbags-

  45. Same as it ever was…

    A stinging report: FSU research shows climate change a major threat to [fill in the blank]… Researchers need more OPM.

  46. I’ve noticed two things recently regarding bees:
    1. the plants seem to do just fine with pollination – seems there’s lots of bugs that pollinate
    2. the honey bee wild population has significantly increased from not even one to now dozens showing up in the flower beds

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