New Research Reveals that Climate Change Is a Major Threat to Bumble Bees

A newly published research has revealed the link changing global climate and a dramatic decline in bumble bee populations worldwide.

The study was published in the journal Ecology Letters and the team behind the study revealed their findings as they examined bees’ responses to direct and indirect climate change effects.

Lead scientist, postdoctoral researcher Jane Ogilvie from Florida State University wrote, “Knowing whether climate variation most affects bumble bees directly or indirectly will allow us to better predict how bumble bee populations will cope with continued climate change. We found that the abundances of all three bumble bee species were mostly affected by indirect effects of climate on flower distribution through a season.”

“When researchers think about flower effects on bees, they typically consider floral abundance to be the most important factor, but we found that the distribution of flowers throughout a season was most important for bumble bees. The more days with good flower availability, the more bees can forage and colonies can grow, and the bigger their populations become. We now have longer flowering seasons because of earlier snowmelt, but floral abundance has not changed overall. This means we have more days in a season with poor flower availability.”

“Declining bumble bee populations should be a warning about the expansive detrimental effects of climate change. Bumble bees have annual life cycles, so their populations show responses to change quickly, and many species live in higher altitude and latitude areas where the change in climate is most dramatic. The effects of climate change on bumble bees should give us pause.”

Co-author of the study, professor of Biological Science at the university Nora Underwood added, “Pollinator species around the world have been declining, but we are still learning about what might be causing declines. Although not all species are influenced in the same way, I was excited to be part of this study because we now have long-term data that shows changing climate is influencing bumble bees.”

“I’m afraid that this research shows conservation will be even more complicated than expected,” she said. “In addition to the response of the target species, our findings suggest that we should be considering how a species’ food resources might be responding to climate change. For bumble bees in particular, we need to make sure that they have enough flowers available during the entire season.”

Featured Image: Pixabay/woodypino

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