Warmer springs fuel the plight of the Bee

Warmer springs fuel the plight of the Bee

A recent study has discovered that British bees are awakening earlier due to warmer springs, posing a threat to the pollination process of crops like apples and pears. The research found that wild bees, including bumblebees, are emerging from their nests approximately 6.5 days earlier for every 1-degree Celsius increase in temperature caused by climate change.


As the arrival of spring advances and bees awaken closer to the beginning of the year, they risk losing synchronisation with the plants they rely on for sustenance. This mismatch in timing can result in a scarcity of food for the bees, leading to insufficient energy levels for pollinating crops or completely missing the blossoming period.


Chris Wyver, the lead researcher from the University of Reading, explained that warmer conditions prompt bees to emerge earlier, emphasising the crucial importance of aligning their awakening with plant flowering. For newly emerged bees, finding pollen and nectar is vital for their survival and chances of thriving. A failure in this synchronisation significantly impairs their ability to pollinate effectively. Consequently, reduced natural pollination may force farmers to rely on managed honeybees, resulting in increased costs that could potentially be passed on to consumers, making apples, pears, and vegetables more expensive.


The study, the largest of its kind conducted in Britain, was published in the journal Ecology and Evolution. It encompassed an examination of 88 distinct species of wild bees over a span of 40 years, incorporating data from over 350,000 individual records. The findings revealed that various bee species exhibit different responses to changing temperatures, causing some to emerge earlier than others. On average, the 88 species are now emerging four days earlier per decade.


Considering future projections of winters becoming 1 to 4.5 degrees Celsius warmer and up to 30 percent wetter by 2070, the onset of spring is expected to continue shifting earlier, causing bees to become active earlier each year. This change in bee emergence patterns will disproportionately impact plants that heavily rely on pollination, such as apple trees, which may not have begun to flower when hibernation ends.


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