Now while some of you – especially those who’ve ever been stung by it – may be cheering for this, it is really, nothing to cheer for. The Bumblebees’ buzz yields to climate change more and more, and it’s affecting the food chain in worrying ways.
The insect is the key and extremely successful pollinator of many fruit and vegetables important for the economy.
The pollinating insect is not that quick to adapt to the environmentally catastrophic results of global warming. It may seem like this is the last thing we should be worrying about, especially since most of us don’t much agree with seeing one of these buzz-kills in our back-yard. For the obvious fear of being stung, that is.
Yet, scientists from the University of Ottawa would have it differently. Under the leadership of Jeremy Kerr, they have been studying the effects of climate change on insects across North America and Europe and have seen that the heating of the southernmost part of their habitat by up to five degrees (in some regions) has pushed many to flap their wings northward.
Though most of the insects affected did go north, and despite of climate change, bumblebees have not taken on this endeavor. The researchers based their findings on the number of bumblebee sightings reported around the control year 1974. What they found was that the funny-looking buzzers never did go north and have thus lost up to 200 miles of the southern part of their habitat.
A most relevant example that Kerr and his team give in the study which appeared this last week in Science is the rusty-patched bumblebee. This particular species had been very common in Canada in the 70s and 80s, yet recently it has but fade away, as there have only been a small number of sightings in the last ten years.
The term Jeremy Kerr has used to describe this withdrawal of the big bee into smaller and smaller areas is “climate vise.” This is because while the bumblebees are dying off in the south, they don’t feel like going north. A speculated theory is that bumblebees are thrown into a biological limbo, a mishap of their own survival instinct brought up by a deep chemical imbalance due to warm weather.
The scientists underline the fact that the bees have evolved in temperate and even cool climate, and are not adapted to tropical climate.
Although this research does not talk about it, there’s another problem that threatens the habitat of the bumblebee, and that is the more and more widespread use of pesticide. And, although some may argue that the bumblebees are just taking their time before going north, it is undeniably clear that the insects do have a lot on their minds.
Image source: npr.org