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Analysis and Comment (17)

A busy bee, giving free horticultural help by collecting pollen. But a tiny mite has devastated bee populations around the world – and it’s now on Australia’s doorstep. David McClenaghan/CSIRO

Explainer: Varroa mite, the tiny killer threatening Australia’s bees

A tiny mite has been killing honey bees all around the world, and will inevitably reach Australian shores. So what is this destructive mite, and what we can do to protect Australian honey bees? The Varroa…
A far-from-mellow yellow. Owen Humphreys/PA

Revealed: the chemical blitz bees face in fields

Perhaps I was naive, but when I discovered the extent of the chemical soup applied to typical fields I was astonished. As part of our ongoing investigations into the impact of pesticides on bees, we looked…
A queen bee tended by her workers … but take away her pheromones and they start to act strangely. Flickr/KrisFricke

Smells like queen spirit: royal pheromones in insect colonies

Much like people, insect colonies like to know if her majesty is at home. In the ants, bees, wasps and termites (the “big four” of the social insect world), the queen has long been suspected of using special…
Bees still in a sticky situation, despite the neonicotinoid ban. P7r7

Neonicotinoid ban won’t fix all bees' problems

The controversial ban on neonicotinoid insecticides comes into effect across the EU this weekend. Neonicotinoids, or neonics, are powerful neurotoxins, killing insects with minute doses and impairing their…
A brain the size of a sesame seed, such as that found in a honey bee, is still capable of weighing up decisions. macropoulos

What bees don’t know can help them: measuring insect indecision

Everyone knows what it’s like to be uncertain – at least, humans do. But are non-human animals ever uncertain? When we feel uncertainty, instead of risking the consequences of a bad or wrong decision…
When approaching a vertical surface, honey bees calibrate their speed to land safely. photophilde

How to land safely on a vertical surface, bee-style

Landing is arguably the most nerve-racking element of any flight. To execute a safe landing, a pilot needs to know the plane’s speed and its distance from the landing surface. The pilot’s challenge is…
Bees are dying, but scientists and beekeepers are at loggerheads over what to do about it. Nick Ansell/PA

Sometimes science can’t see the wood for the bees

The EU banned the use of neonicotinoid pesticides for two years in April, after a sustained campaign by beekeepers, green groups and environmental organisations across Europe. These groups are convinced…
If advice isn’t acted upon, is it good advice? kevincollins123

Bees, pesticides and … what are chief scientists for?

Without good advice, governments are in extreme danger of creating erroneous or damaging public policy. So it’s a serious matter when a government science adviser is accused of ignoring scientific evidence…
Honeybees aren’t the only species pollinating plants in Australia; we have little idea how pesticides are affecting native pollinators. Howard Rawson

Neonicotinoid ban eases the stress on bees

News that the European Union (EU) has restricted the use of neonicotinoid insecticides was welcomed by scientists, farmers, beekeepers and politicians around the world. But the limitations of the restriction…
Many Australian crops rely on pollination by bees: we should think about following the EU’s lead on banning pesticides that affect them. djfrantic/Flickr

The buzz on bee pesticides: Australia should consider a ban

The European Union has just banned three pesticides thought to affect the learning behaviour of bees. The two-year ban, which takes effect in December, is in response to a dramatic drop in bee numbers…
Around the world, there are more than 20,000 bee species: this is Australia’s blue banded bee. Louise Docker

Modern agriculture is stressing honeybees: let’s go native

Honeybees are in trouble - a stressful lifestyle and an unhealthy diet are being compounded by mite attacks - but we needn’t panic about pollination. Australia has many native bee (and other pollinator…
By attaching a small transponder to bees, researchers were able to track movements and feeding patterns. Andrew Martin

Fast food: how bees navigate to nectar, without the bumbling

How do insects, given their poor visual resolution and small brains, cope with the huge challenge of finding food at more than one location and returning home immediately afterwards, day after day? Mathieu…
Honeybees are important pollinators, but not the only ones. BugMan50

Honeybee decline warrants concern, but not panic

In many countries there has been concern about a decline in honeybees. You may have even heard that honeybees face dangers so dire that their imminent decline threatens world food production, with potential…

Research and News (1)

Research Briefs (29)

Pesticide shrinking worker bees

Exposure to a widely used pesticide stunts growth in worker bumblebees, researchers from the University of London have found…

Pollination a fine-balancing act

Honey bees are thought to be the primary pollinators, but wild insects may be better. Two new studies, one published in Science…

Caffeine gives bees the buzz too

Honeybees may have an advantage over other pollinators – caffeine improves performance. The findings, from Newcastle University…

Pollinators and plants losing touch

The pollination networks between bees and flowers are not as robust as they were 100 years ago. Based on a comparative study…

Honey bees exile mite-infested larvae

Adult honey bees can identify bee larvae that are infected by the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor, by detecting specific…

Making a bee-line for energy savings

Bumblebees use complex problem-solving skills to minimise the energy they use when flying to collect food. For the bumblebee…

Beehive fences keep elephants at bay

The elephant population in Kenya has proved to be a serious problem for farmers. Luckily a new method of keep elephants away…