As climate change sets in, plants and bees keep pace

Dec 12, 2011

No laggards, those bees and plants.

As due to climate change encroach winter, bees and plants keep pace.

An analysis of bee collection data over the past 130 years shows that spring arrives about 10 days earlier than in the 1880s, and bees and have kept pace by arriving earlier in lock-step.

The study also found that most of this shift has occurred since 1970, when the change in mean has increased most rapidly, according to Bryan Danforth, Cornell professor of entomology, who co-authored a study published the (Dec. 5, 2011.)

"It's an illustration of how valuable our natural history collections are at Cornell, even if you don't know in advance how these collections might be used," says Danforth. Lead author Ignasi Bartomeus and senior author Rachael Winfree are both entomologists at Rutgers University.

Although the triggers for bee spring emergence are unknown, bees may simply be cued to emerge when temperatures rise above a threshold over a number of days, but "if climate change accelerates the way it is expected to, we don't know if bees will continue to keep up," says Danforth.

Explore further: Acoustic methods to com­pli­ment cur­rent whale mon­i­toring efforts

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Native bees are better pollinators than honeybees

Oct 25, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The honeybee has hogged the pollination spotlight for centuries, but native bees are now getting their fair share of buzz: They are two to three times better pollinators than honeybees, are ...

Halictid bees' social behavior studied

Mar 13, 2006

Cornell University scientists say the social behavior of many species of sweat bees evolved simultaneously during a period of global warming.

History of 'cuckoo bees' needs a rewrite, study says

Sep 13, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The evolutionary history of the bee family Apidae -- which has the largest number of species and includes honeybees -- may need a major revision, according to a new Cornell study published online ...

Researcher identifies 11 new sweat bee species

Nov 15, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- When a scientist discovers a new species, one of hardest tasks is naming it. A Cornell researcher faced this challenge many times over when he discovered 11 new U.S. sweat bee species (subgenus ...

Bees are good informers

Sep 09, 2011

Honeybees can do far more than simply pollinate plants or make honey. The busy creatures also make excellent environmental monitors. This has been demonstrated by Wageningen UR bee researcher Sjef van der Steen. He used ...

Asian bees threaten Australia

Jun 15, 2007

Four swarms of Asian bees found in Cairns, Australia, may pose a serious threat to the country's honey bee population.

Recommended for you

Breakthrough in coccidiosis research

19 hours ago

Biological researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are a step closer to finding a new cost-effective vaccine for the intestinal disease, coccidiosis, which can have devastating effects on poultry ...

Vietnam's taste for cat leaves pets in peril

Jul 28, 2014

The enduring popularity of "little tiger" as a snack to accompany a beer in Vietnam means that cat owners live in constant fear of animal snatchers, despite an official ban.

New species of mayfly discovered in India

Jul 28, 2014

Scientists have discovered a new species of mayfly in the southern Western Ghats, a mountain range along the west coast of India. In fact, this is the first time that any mayfly belonging to the genus Labiobaetis has be ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nanobanano
1 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
spring arrives about 10 days earlier than in the 1880s


Needs some sort of qualification of how you define "spring", as it is a traditional astronomical classification.

Also, specify region or latitude or something.
Pirouette
3 / 5 (2) Dec 12, 2011
Well, Rutgers is in New Jersey and I THINK Cornell is in Connecticut, not sure about Cornell's location offhand. Both being in the NorthEast, I think it's safe to say the researchers have localized their study to that region. The emergence of Spring flowers in full bloom would naturally trigger the almost simultaneous emergence of bees also, since bees gather pollen to feed the colony and delays are costly for the hive. I believe that bees are attuned naturally to the changes in air temperature and Earth's distance from the Sun. . . .although a sudden cold snap could send them back to the hive quickly. Some of my neighbors are beekeepers. I'll need to ask them what they think of this. Climate warming may be beneficial to bees; they will have that much more time to gather their food from field flowers, and thereby pollinate the flowers to ensure a good crop the year after also.