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Threat posed by ‘pollen thief’ bees uncovered

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of ‘pollen thief’ bees – which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators – and the threat they pose to certain plant species.

Flowers often need pollinators, such as bees, to collect and transport pollen to fertilise other flowers and trigger fruit and seed production. In order to attract pollinators, flowers offer resources such as nectar, oils, and pollen in return.

However some bees act as thieves by taking the pollen – a vital protein source for young bees – without providing pollination services.

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Florally transmitted diseases (FTDs): a newly discovered threat to bee communities.

New research led by award winning scientist Dr Peter Graystock at the University of Leeds, in collaboration with Professor William Hughes and Professor Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex, shows that diseased bees deposit parasites on to the flowers they visit. These parasites can then infect healthy bees visiting the same flowers, or be transported by an unsusceptible bee species to other flowers to reach their host species.

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NERC video showcases bumblebee science at work

Last week, NERC (the Natural Environment Research Council) recognised and rewarded eight of its scientists for a range of work, which has achieved exceptional economic and social benefit both to the UK and internationally. As noted on our new page at the time, bumblebee scientist Dr Peter Graystock was one of these scientists and received £5000 prize money towards his future research.

A short film about Dr Graystock’s research has now been released and can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

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Bumblebee brains affected by neonicotinoids

 

New research has emerged from the Universities of Dundee and St. Andrews which shows that accepted environmental levels of neonicotinoids impair bumblebee brain functionality and consequently negatively impact the performance of whole colonies.

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