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Wild pollinators cannot replace honey bees . . .

At least not in the way we’d like. In the past few years a flood of articles has heralded native pollinators as “saviors”—groups of selfless, tireless, seldom-seen gladiators that are going to step in and save our food supply once the honey bees die off. This is a comforting thought, and perhaps one day native […] Read more

Wednesday wordphile: floral fidelity

Although honey bees are polylectic, which means they visit many different species of flowering plants, they also exhibit floral fidelity, which means that a bee visits only one kind of flower on any given foraging trip. If there are enough flowers of one type available, a honey bee will continue to visit that same kind […] Read more

Pollen can carry disease to native bees

While studying pesticides in pollen, I was always curious about the potential for pollen to carry disease organisms as well. Indeed, a new study that appeared in the December 22 PLoS ONE confirmed my worst fears—that pollen may be a major route of viral infection from managed honey bees to wild native bees. The authors […] Read more

Pollinators are not going to change, so we have to

It is easy to blame the loss of bee habitat on “them”—them being industrial farms, expansive orchards, sprayed fields, and freeways kept neat with herbicides. But in truth, our modern cities and suburbs are just as bad. We have covered the land with mulch, decking, concrete, flagstones, bricks, pavement, and lawns. None of these things […] Read more

A night in the lecture hall: students, bees, and pesticides

Last night I had the opportunity to speak to a class of graduate students about bees, pesticides, EPA regulations, and the thesis-writing process. What astonished me was the interest shown by the diverse individuals in the class. The questions they had were amazing, both in number and depth. If there hadn’t been a time constraint, […] Read more