In response to the concern about destructive sampling of bees (where bees are killed as a result of a study, which as pointed out in another comment, is necessary in many cases for identification), please see the study “The effect of repeated, lethal sampling on wild bee abundance and diversity”:
“We found that the standardized method for sampling bees, with specimens from 132 morphospecies, did not affect bee communities in terms of abundance, rarefied richness, evenness, or functional group composition. Thus, our results indicate that the bee communities we sampled are robust to such sampling efforts, despite removing an average of 2,862 bees per season.”
(PDF) The effect of repeated, lethal sampling on wild bee abundance and diversity. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273890315_The_effect_of_repeated_lethal_sampling_on_wild_bee_abundance_and_diversity [accessed Jul 09 2018].
An interesting article.
In response to Stephen Buhner, it is often necessary to collect bees to make an identification.
I have written on this topic before in some of my many books. As usual this article, while highlighting a number of important points, misses the crucial one: researchers such as this one, often studying endangered bees, don’t “collect” bees, they kill them. The bee that had not been “collected” for 100 years . . . well, it won’t be doing any more pollinating, will it? The idea that someone “loves” bees and then kills them to promote the understanding and health of bees in complex ecosystems is, well, stupid. I am far from anti-science (which is the usual response to my point here) but i am very much an opponent of the behavior of many scientists. The number of researchers who damage complex ecosystems in their pursuits, adding by those actions to the problems they are studying, is very high. It is one of the severe problems within the scientific community (which comes from Francis Bacon) that nature must be “tortured” (Bacon’s word) to give up its secrets, further, that only by dissection can nature or its parts be understood. A holistic approach instead would use observation and photographs and long years of it instead, would approach with humility, and take as an axiom Aldo Leopold’s point: The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. When we approach nature in an attempt to understand it, we are approaching an organism some 4.5 billion years old. We are an organism some 100,000 years old (in our current form). We are embedded in an ecological, nonlinear, complex scenario, we in fact emerged as an expression of it. Such simple cut and dried reductive science as represented in this article and the researcher’s approach is in fact one of the great problems we face as a species. It is the source of a great many of the ecological problems we face and many innovations such scientists devise are in fact only responses to problems that their compatriots created in the first place. Simplistically, as an example, other scientists created the pesticides (based on reductive reasoning) that are one of the causes of bee declines across the world which bee scientists are studying and suggesting solutions for.
Thank you for this captivating piece of primary research in ecology ! In an era where the pursuit of investigative science is denigrated as irrelevant, when it is compared to the prevailing interest in research for strategic weapons and the development of new, expendable products and ‘improved’ business strategies for merchandising them, we can see how skewed human values have become. We have eclipsed the vital components in exchange for the various forms of distractions that can only yield temporary, competitive pursuits that feed egos, bank accounts, and political power drives. The restlessness we now see throughout modern human populations is related to this skewed pursuit. Just two days spent outdoors with a magnifying glass, binoculars, and a couple of identification books for plants, insects and birds, can reawaken our latent appreciation of how interdependent are all forms of Life, and how primary is the need to protect it through seeing for ourselves the beauty and vital role each component plays, and the importance of the surrounding matrix in which it is either nurtured or starved of what it needs for survival.
As a biology major, I discovered the world’s greatest treasures through the study of ecological relationships because it brought together all the sciences with the intent of gaining an understanding of the primary relationships seen out in the bush and in other natural biomes which support, not just humans, but all forms of existence. Valuing the complex Web of Life, from what is known to the inviting edges of the unknown, revivifies Life for the patient investigator with their senses alive to take it in. It can encompass the full range of involvement, from one’s backyard curiosity, all the way through intense academic studies with a particular focus. All of it is worthy. With an awakened appreciation of the dynamics involved in complex systems, it becomes obvious that we must protect the atmosphere that surrounds it and come to understand the role of climate change; experience the seas and the hazards of how plastics and toxic runoff are now decimating populations of living things unable to survive it; see how the pristine fresh water sources are being deeply polluted by industrial feedlots of hoofed animals, and battery caged chickens, and coal tailings and other industrial waste that is casually dumped within it by the increasingly blind policies of our regulatory agencies.
All of this reflects the call for revolutionary action toward a much deeper recognition of our responsibility in an environment that is rapidly being decimated.
It is a call for reorienting our spiritual perspectives toward a celebration of what this planet so remarkably provides all forms of Life, and that we as stewards are charged to protect it.
The Key Values of TRUTH, BEAUTY AND SCIENCE – Along with CURIOSITY
Thank you for the reminder.
Comment after studying 🐟
You all are awesome, the New Mexico Beekeepers Association is fantastic and they reach across the state even down to El Paso. It has been challenging getting bees through the winter, this past one particularly. Its my belief that these warm dry winters are causing bees to leave the hives more often in search of food, causing winter cluster size deterioration. The less bees clustering the more difficult it is to keep warm and therefore the winter lifecycle of the bees is skewed. We had numerous days above 50 degrees over the winter and the bees seemed as confused as their keeper. On a side note, I saw the most beautiful wildflowers I have ever seen in the Gila National Forest, in the middle of the largest charred landscape i have seen. It was amazing.
I had 4 hives and lost them all last winter. One honey still in the comb but some kind of mold. Another had honey in the comb but the bees had all vanished…I had last inspected in the fall preferring to not harvest 12 frames honey and leave it for the bees…gone, simply gone. The other with honey still in the comb was full with dead bees. Still stumped by this. Will begin again next year. Any thoughts?
Really appreciate this effort. In just south of SANTA Fe, NM & am very concerned about the loss in bee populations. In last six years have seen a huge decline in bee population in this area. Keep up the great work.
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