Climate change poses growing threat to bee population

1st May 2018


P7 bee istock

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  • Wildlife & Habitats

Author

Marie Godward

Increasingly frequent and intense droughts will add to a long list of climate-change-induced perils threatening the survival of bees across the world, new research has found.

Field experiments led by the University of Exeter revealed that droughts could roughly halve the amount of nectar provided by flowering plants, leaving less food for bees and other pollinators.

Bees are already under pressure from a variety of threats, including habitat loss, spread of diseases, alien species and the use of particular pesticides, with the research suggesting they face an even bleaker future than previously thought.

“The level of drought we looked at was calculated to be a rare event, but with climate change, such droughts are expected to become much more common,” said Dr Ellen Fry from the University of Manchester, which helped with the research.

The study took place in Wiltshire on chalk grassland. However, the scientists warned that the findings are likely to be broadly applicable to other regions and habitats around the world.

Unlike previous studies on the impact of drought on flowers carried out in laboratories, the latest research involved experiments with rain shelters to examine the effects on real communities of plant species.

The results are likely to have significant knock-on effects, with the researchers highlighting how bees and other insects also provide food for many birds and mammals.

Image credit: iStock

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