Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Exotic flowers help bees stay busy in winter

Date:
April 14, 2010
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Recent years have seen an unusual rise in the number of bees about in the cold winter months. Scientists have found that while most bees are hibernating, the buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, is out taking advantage of exotic winter-flowering plants in our gardens and parks.

Bombus terrestris worker foraging for pollen on winter flowering honeysuckle.
Credit: Dr. Thomas Ings

Recent years have seen an unusual rise in the number of bees about in the cold winter months, and scientists are now beginning to find out why.

While most bees are hibernating, the buff-tailed bumblebee, Bombus terrestris, is out taking advantage of exotic winter-flowering plants in our gardens and parks, according to scientists from Queen Mary, University of London.

The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, suggests this unique species raises an extra generation of workers to collect nectar from such plants as strawberry trees and holly-like Mahonia, which flower during the colder months.

"All of the UK's bumblebee species normally die out in the autumn leaving only their new queens to survive the cold in hibernation," explains Dr Thomas Ings from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences. "However, this research points to a major new change in the behaviour of the British buff-tailed bumblebee."

"It is tempting to link the increase in winter bee activity to climate change, especially with the warmer winters we've experienced over the last two decades, but the fact that we only find winter bees foraging on exotic flowering plants in parks and gardens suggests that Britain's love of winter flowering plants plays a crucial role."

According to colleague Ralph Stelzer, these winter bees might even be able to collect nectar faster than those foraging in the summer. He monitored the bees' activity by tagging them with tiny state-of-the-art Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips -- similar to the technology used in the Transport for London's Oyster cards system -- and measuring the amount of nectar they collected.

Dr Ings has recently been awarded a three year Early Career Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust to carry out further research into the reasons behind the bees' changing behaviour. He also hopes to investigate the effect the coldest winter for almost 30 years has had on bee activity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ralph J. Stelzer, Lars Chittka, Marc Carlton, Thomas C. Ings. Winter Active Bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) Achieve High Foraging Rates in Urban Britain. PLoS ONE, 2010; 5(3): e9559 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009559

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Exotic flowers help bees stay busy in winter." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100304202248.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2010, April 14). Exotic flowers help bees stay busy in winter. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100304202248.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Exotic flowers help bees stay busy in winter." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100304202248.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins