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Urban Heat is Bad for Bees
As Temperature Rises, Pollinator Productivity Declines

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Bombus bimaculatus, a species of bumblebee, was among those found to have the lowest heat tolerance.
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey


When temperatures exceed 100?F, we find ways to stay cool - drinking more water, staying in the shade, or staying inside an air conditioned building. Urban bees don't have that luxury, and according to a new study from North Carolina State University, common wild bee species decline as urban temperatures increase.

The study looked at 15 of the most common bee species in the southeast, using individual bees in a lab environment to predict how the whole population would fare. Each bee was placed inside a tube and the temperature gradually raised until it became incapacitated.

Among the most heat-tolerant bees were carpenter bees, whose maximum temperature was between 122 and 124?F. The green sweat bee and a bumblebee peaked below 113?F. While these are the temperatures at which the bees became incapacitated, adverse effects showed at lower temperatures as well.

To determine if the individual's reactions would correspond to the populace, the researchers studies bee populations at 18 urban sites over the course of two years.

At the conclusion of the field study, they determined that the lab behavior did in fact correspond with the behavior of the wild populations; in other words, the lower the maximum temperature, the greater the decline with urban warming.

The study was published in the journal Biology Letters. Read it at http://tinyurl.com/ybetghtb.







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Last Updated 07-24-17