From: North Carolina State University
Published September 29, 2017 02:52 PM

Climate's Effects on Flowers Critical for Bumble Bees

In a study that shows the importance of climate change on critical pollinators, North Carolina State University researchers found that earlier and longer flowering seasons can have poor effects on the bumble bees that rely on these flowers to live and thrive.

“We wanted to understand how climate change is affecting bee populations – specifically three species of bumble bees that live at higher altitudes and are important pollinators,” said Rebecca Irwin, an NC State professor of applied ecology and co-principal investigator on the study, which is published in the journal Ecology Letters. “We asked whether variation in snowmelt timing and summer precipitation directly affected bumble bee colonies and their survival, or if the snowmelt and precipitation effects on flowers were more important. It turns out that the effects on flowers played a more critical role in affecting bee populations.”

Irwin and colleagues examined bee, flower and climate data collected at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in southwest Colorado. A 43-year timespan of data on the timing and number of flower blooms showed that the earlier snowmelt due to warmer temperatures and lower snowfall caused flowers to bloom earlier, extending the flowering season.

Read more at North Carolina State University

Photo: New bumble bee research shows that extended flowering seasons due to climate change have detrimental effects on our native pollinators. Photo courtesy of Jane Ogilvie.

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