bee decline

There’s evidence that bee and butterfly populations are in decline, a phenomenon that some have dubbed the “insect apocalypse.” In response, the Colorado Department of Transportation has brought in a bug expert.

You don't need bees and butterflies to grow corn and soybeans, but a majority of farmers do rely on pesticides, which don't discriminate between helpful and harmful insects.

The widespread use of pesticides is considered a major factor in the large-scale decline in bee populations in recent years. But it's unlikely farmers will give up or limit pesticide use, so instead, a team of researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is looking at designing agricultural landscapes with pollinator health in mind.

In other Plains and Midwestern states, researchers are having farmers plant prairie strips between fields to help combat water contamination from pesticides and fertilizer. UNL's five-year project wants to find out whether windbreaks, planted pollinator habitat, cover crops or a combination of those techniques can help limit pesticide drift.

Dan Mullin / Flickr Creative Commons

There’s been an unexpected victim of President Trump’s decision to freeze all regulatory action within the Federal Government. The rusty-patched bumblebee has seen its numbers drop by 87 percent in the past couple of decades.

Alvesgaspar / Wikimedia Commons

A federal judge’s ruling last week is being hailed as a victory for insecticide companies and lamented as a loss for beekeepers and nature advocates, reports Agri-Pulse.

An insecticide seed coating called neonicotinoid is believed to be partially responsible for the disappearance in many areas of the country of bees. Environmental groups had sued to have the substance outlawed.

Swarm Season has beekeepers hunting for new hives

Jun 9, 2016
Brian Seifferlein / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

Late spring is swarm season, the time of year when bees reproduce and find new places to build hives. Swarms of bees leave the nest, flying through the air, hovering on trees, fences and houses, searching for a new home.

cpr.org

With the disappearance of America’s bees, a California tradition is changing, reports Colorado Public Radio. Beekeepers flock to California every spring to watch billions of honeybees pollinate the state's almond trees. But now, many almond growers are switching to a new breed of tree that grows what are known as Independence almonds. These almond trees are special because they’re self-pollinating. That’s good news for farmers, who spend lots of money hiring bees to pollinate their crop.

Courtney Perry / Minneapolis Star Tribune

Beekeepers on the High Plains might want to keep an eye on a story to the north. Two beekeepers in Minnesota have received compensation from the state’s department of agriculture after their hives were destroyed. The hives were severely damaged last spring by toxic pesticides that had drifted off a neighboring cornfield, reports the Star Tribune.

Adam Dolezal / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The persistent decline of honeybees has scientists scrambling to understand what’s causing the problem and how to correct it. Humans may be part of the problem.

U.S. beekeepers report losing about a third of their colonies each year and the figure increased from 2014 to 2015.

Muhammed / Creative Commons

Over the past few years, bees and other pollinators have been disappearing from America, reports The Rural Blog.  Last year the Obama administration called for a national strategy to protect these insects. Bees are essential to many crops, and most states agreed to develop pollinator protection plans.

In the Fields, a Search for Monarch Butterflies

Nov 20, 2015
Mike Tobias / Harvest Public Media

From Harvest Public Media:

The population of monarch butterflies has declined so dramatically in recent years that the iconic insect is being considered for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s endangered species list. In Nebraska and across the other areas of the Midwest, a stop on the monarch migration route, efforts are underway to determine the scope of the decline.

In Oklahoma, Bees are Vanishing

Aug 25, 2015
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lost a greater percentage of its honeybee colonies than any other state last year. As a result, beekeepers, scientists, and farmers met in Oklahoma City this month to create a plan to help pollinating insects survive. As reported by StateImpact Oklahoma, the meeting  focused on ways to balance the use of pesticides with an understanding of the chemicals’ dangers to pollinators.  

Seeds could be key to Midwestern Bee decline

May 29, 2014

Are the vast seas of corn and soybeans killing bees?