Queens of wild bumblebees perish in human-built hives

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(ORDO NEWS) — Biologists at Cornell University unexpectedly found that when breeding colonies of bumblebees, which were used for pollination, die wild bumblebee queens in the hives.

On average, scientists found 10 dead queens in the hive. Due to the death of queens, the number of wild bumblebees has sharply decreased. Scientists have figured out what’s going on.

The death of a young bumblebee queen leads to the fact that the bumblebee family is never formed, the number of bumblebees will fall, and the plants remain unpollinated. Nobody expected this

A study conducted by scientists at Cornell University showed that breeding of eastern common bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) leads to the death of wild bumblebee queens.

The brightly colored hives attract wild queens of B. impatiens (and queens of other species). It’s a common thing in the bumblebee world that a young queen, who has yet to set up her own nest, takes over another queen’s nest.

But in the case of bumblebee hives, everything ends very badly for the young queen. Usually, there are several dozen insects in a bumblebee family (about 50 on average), and there are even fewer working insects, and a strong queen can drive them out of the nest. But bumblebee families bred by people are much more numerous.

Where the queen expects to meet a few defenders, she is attacked by hundreds of worker bumblebees. She just doesn’t stand a chance. And scientists find dead queens on the floor of the hive.

The loss of wild queens is leading to an overall decline in local populations of B. impatiens.

“None of these killed queens will find their own nest in which her family will live, where worker insects will grow up that will pollinate cereals and tomatoes,” says Heather Grub, lead author of the study.

The scientists put rotary filters on the entrances of the hives, which they called “excluders”. Such a simple device narrows the entrance of the hive.

The device proved to be 100% effective in keeping the local queen inside and foreign queens outside.

Queens of wild bumblebees perish in human built hives 2
A) Bombus impatiens hives (B) Hive installation (C)-(D) Rotary switch

The discovery adds to the list of human actions that, albeit unintentionally, lead to a reduction in populations of wild bee species.

Wild oriental bumblebees (Bombus impatiens) are not a species of concern. But the researchers found dead queens and other species in the hives, including the endangered Bombus perplexus.

Scientists believe that when using bred bumblebee colonies for pollination, the excluder proposed by them must be installed in the hives.


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