Bear Wasps of the Middle Kingdom: A Decade of Discovering China’s Bumble Bees


By Paul H. Williams, Jiaxing Huang, and Jiandong An Bumble bees are well known for being among the most important pollinators in the world’s north-temperate regions. Perhaps more surprisingly, half of the world’s bumble bee species are concentrated in just one country, China. With an area only slightly smaller than the U.S., China has almost […]

The Commercial Bumble Bee Industry May Have Helped Spread Nosema to Wild Bee Populations


When most people think about bee pollinators in U.S. agriculture, they probably think of honey bees. However, bumble bees can also be used, especially in green houses where crops like tomatoes or peppers are grown. In fact, several companies sell bumble bee hives through the mail. In the late 1990s, populations of the western bumble […]

Radio Tagging Bumble Bees to Figure Out What the Buzz Is All About


By Jeremy Hemberger Bees are on a lot of folk’s minds these days, and for good reason. They provide pollination services to over 70% of the crops worldwide, helping to get us the delicious and nutritious foods that we love, like apples, cucumbers, cherries, berries, and more. Despite their importance across the planet, they’ve taken […]

Nicotine and Other Natural Chemicals Protect Bees from Parasites


Bumble bees infected with a common intestinal parasite are drawn to flowers whose nectar and pollen have a medicinal effect, a new study shows. The findings, soon to be published in the journal Ecology, suggest that plant chemistry could help combat the decline of bee species. The researchers previously found in lab studies that nectar […]

Study Finds Very Few Wild Bee Species Pollinate Major Crops


A major international study finds that surprisingly few bee species are responsible for pollinating the world’s crops. The paper, published in Nature Communications, suggests that only two percent of wild bee species pollinate 80 percent of bee-pollinated crops worldwide. The study is one of the largest on bee pollination to date. While agricultural development and […]

Citizen Scientists Needed for Bumble Bee Research in National Parks


By Eric Rayfield In July 2015 entitled, researchers are launching an intense bumble bee project called “The Blue Ridge Bumble Bee Megatransect.” I’ll be joining  Dr. Jennifer Geib of Appalachian State University, Paul Super of the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center of the National Park Service, and Sam Droege of the U.S. Geological Survey. We […]

CORRECTION: Caffeine Does Not Protect Bumble Bees

Last week on February 18, 2015, an Entomology Today article called “Caffeine and Nicotine May Protect Bees Against Intestinal Parasites” claimed that both of these substances helped reduce a common intestinal parasite called Crithidia bombi in bumble bees. However, it has been brought to our attention by the lead author that this is not true […]

Nicotine May Protect Bees Against Intestinal Parasites


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally stated that in addition to nicotine, caffeine was also effective. However, as this correction explains, that is not the case. The four substances that WERE found to be effective are nicotine, anabasine, thymol, and catalpol. Sometimes tiny bits of toxic substances can actually be beneficial. In toxicology, this concept is […]

Ability to Detect Polarized Light Helps Bees Find Food


Bees use their ability to “see” polarized light when foraging for food, researchers based at the University of Bristol have discovered. This is the first time bees have been found to use this ability for something other than navigation. Like many other insect pollinators, bees find their way around by using a polarization-sensitive area in […]