Bee Wary

Nature’s Wake-Up Set to Snooze

Bees are awakening earlier each spring, according to a Rutgers University study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Scientists report that global warming over the past 130 years has caused several species of North American bees to emerge about 10 days earlier than they did previously, with most of the shift occurring since 1970.

Scientific research known as phenology measures the timing of lifecycle events of animals and plants. “A shift in 10 days is a lot from the point of view of an insect whose lifetime is measured in weeks,” says Rutgers Entomologist Rachael Winfree, co-author of the study.

Because bees are the world’s most important pollinators of flowers and plants, any change in this crucial relationship could prove devastating. Study leader Ignasi Bartomeus, Ph.D., says. “If bees and plants responded differently to climate change, bees could emerge in the spring before plants were flowering, in which case the bees would die because they wouldn’t have anything to eat. Or plants could flower before the bees emerged, in which case the plants would not be pollinated and would fail to reproduce.”

Source: USA Today

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