Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Bee's Life

Crab spider eating a bee

It's a rough life for a bee out there. This solitary bee has become dinner for a spider on a White Snakeroot inflorescence. You've probably heard about honeybees, varroa mites, and colony collapse disorder. This summer, I've seen only a few honeybees (in June, on Indian hemp flowers). This article in the Washington Post describes citizen science research suggesting that the weather may be responsible for honeybee decline.

Weather May Account for Reduced Honey Crop by Jane Black, September 10, 2007

...[S]ome experts say the more likely reason for this year's weak honey crop, which the National Honey Board says is on track to be smaller than last year's below-par 155 million pounds, is something much more obvious: the weather. In the South, drought and wildfires have prevented flowers from blooming. In the Midwest, a late freeze brought nectar flows in many areas almost to a halt. And in California, the country's No. 2 honey producer, coastal beekeepers reported that there were almost no flowering plants in July. The bees were fed sugar water to keep them from starving.

....[N]ew research by Wayne Esaias, a Maryland biological oceanographer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center who keeps bees as a hobby, has piqued enormous interest among bee experts and honey lovers. By taking simple measurements on when his bees started and stopped collecting nectar near his home in Highland, Esaias has shown that flowers there are blooming three weeks earlier than they did in 1992 and a month before they did in 1970. (The research, which has not yet been published, is posted at


misrology said...

very good blog
Greetings from Egypt

Brett said...

Very alarming about the bees.
Did you see this?

Larry said...

The freakish and unprecedented late hard frost this spring must have been hard on the local nectar-feeders here in the Hannibal area, including honeybees. Many of the flowering trees, such as mimosa and tulip tree, managed to flower in late July and August, something I've never seen before.

Eric Eaton said...

Hi: Just a note that the "bee" caught by the crab spider is actually a ripiphorid beetle. No, really:-) Since they are parasites of solitary bees (in the larval stage), the crab spider is doing the bees a favor here. Aside, interested in your work on Reduviidae. Please contact me: Bug Eric.