Some of you may know that I am a Science & Society Fellow for the Biosphere 2. This blog was born as part of the program requirements. I had never thought about blogging about my research and love of bees, but I have found that I like it. I like it a lot. It makes me happy knowing people visit this blog and think the bees and other cool insects are just that. Cool. I had a meeting, with the other students in the program and the program directors, this past week. A decision about blogging was made. Themes. That’s right…themes. Every other week we, the students, will be given a theme to blog about. So, this weeks theme is climate change. You may wonder how climate change can be incorporated into my research. But it can. Many environmental factors can affect bees. It’s like the Kevin bacon drinking game, or 6 degrees of separation. This may affect that which may affect the bees. Lets see how…
Climate change may affect the phenology of flowering plants that bees feed. Floral phenology is the timing of flower emergence, the sequence of blooms, fruiting, and leaf fall. As you know, bees need flowers to survive. And they need pollen from flowers to feed their babies. Bees emerge around the same time that flowers bloom. They seem to be synchronous with each other. This is good for both. The bees need food and the flowers need to be pollinated.
Back in 2006 Tucson had the driest Fall, Winter, and Spring since they began recording weather data. Many flowers around the area did not bloom. Many bees did not emerge. There was no food for those bees that did come out. It was sad. The bees stayed in hibernation for an extra year, but after a year they will die if they do not emerge. This is not good. Luckily, 2007 was a better year. There was some rain. Flowers did bloom. There were tons of bees out. The bee above was one of them. She looks so happy rolling around all that pollen.
But imagine if 2007 was the same as 2006. These bees would have died. Their populations would have crashed. The populations of the beautiful flowers may have also crashed. It’s 6 degrees of separation…climate can affect bloom time, which can then influence bee populations, present and future.
I am happy to see that these flowers are blooming when the bees are out and about. This bee looks happy diving into the flower.
To keep these beauties around, the bees and the flowers, we need to take care of them. They will return the favor by taking care of us.