To bee or not to bee

Bee on apple blossom
Honeybee on apple blossom. Image Credit: Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay (CC0)

This Sunday the UK celebrated World Bee Day (May 20th); the first year of the now to be annual UN awareness event aimed at increasing our sensitivity to the global importance and increasing struggle of pollinators. Whilst the event hopes to increase understanding of pollinators generally, including butterflies, moths, birds and bats, the focus is strongly on wild and managed bees for their economic importance. And justly so; bees visit over 70 crops in the UK alone and are worth billions worldwide in the pollination service they provide. However, it would be difficult to miss the worryingly-frequent headlines warning of bee decline both in the UK and globally as a result of human activities.

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Four new bee species described in Australia – many more remain unidentified

By Miroslav Djuric, DVM, CAB International, Wallingford, UK.

Bee specialists from South Australia have described four new native bees. Three of these bee species have been described as  having narrow faces and very long mouths, allowing them to feed on slender flowers found on the emu bush, a hardy native of the Australian desert environment, and to collect the nectar through a narrow constriction at the base of the emu bush flowers. Based on the authors' description, the way these bees have adapted to feed on emu bush flowers is an excellent example of evolution. The fourth species belongs to a different group and has a more commonly observed round-shaped head.

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The four new species belong to the genus Euhesma. Their description is based on evaluation of DNA ‘barcoding’ and morphological comparison of the bees with museum specimens.

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Beekeepers March on Whitehall

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Wallingford is not only where our community of bloggers resides, but it is also home to Rowse Honey, the ‘UK’s leading honey company’. For honey-lovers everywhere, attention will have been drawn to
a BBC news bulletin yesterday announcing that English honey supplies could run
out by Christmas (BBC, 2008).

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