It would appear as though our pollinators now have one more thing to worry about… heat spikes. According to a new report in the Science journal, the impact of extreme spikes can be more damaging than even pesticides to wild bumblebee populations. Researchers, however, were very much stressing that this does not dismiss the damage being done by pesticides, it is simply yet another concern to have regarding our cherished pollinators.
Global Warming Concerns
Recently in the news was a massive heat pocket in the ocean that was responsible for tens of thousands of sea life dying. In that case, scientists cited global warming as a contributing factor, and they are doing the same here. Jeremy Kerr, the senior researcher involved in the study as well as a biologist at the University of Ottawa, stated, “We are not saying pesticides are not a factor. We are confirming positively that climate change is a factor.”
The really interesting thing about this study from my perspective is that it dives into something that is likely impacting honey bees as well, but it is something that has not been studied because most honey bees monitored are used in the agricultural industry.
To that point, we have seen numerous stories in the papers recently about hives where there is a significant die-off almost overnight. By no means am I saying this is what happened in those cases, but it would be very interesting to find out if there were any major temperature fluctuations in those cases that have yet to be solved. If that did happen, perhaps this would be something the honey bee industry should also be studying.
For this particular study, bumble bee populations from 1901 to 1974 served as the base with them being compared to bumble bee populations from 2000 to 2014. When researchers finished their study, they found a 46 percent decline in North America and a 17 percent decline in Europe. They reached the conclusion that “climate change has driven stronger and more widespread bumble bee declines than have been reported previously.”
The researchers, however, believe this is a problem that can be addressed. Kerr stated, “Just like we would plant a shade tree to help protect humans from heat, we could manage habitat to shield bees from extremes.” I cannot help but think of the many rooftop hives that are being built in various programs around the country, with the bees just sitting there completely exposed to the sun all day, every day, during the summer. When you add in rooftop HVAC units and the heat they kick off, we can only hope these efforts to save our honey bees are not actually putting them in more danger.
To read the full report on ExpressNews.com, click here.