We discuss and comment on the role agriculture will play in the containment of the CO2 problem and address protocols for terraforming the planet Earth.
A model farm template is imagined as the central methodology. A broad range of timely science news and other topics of interest are commented on.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Decline in Bee Pollination Confirmed
What this is saying is that an early spring which we have had plenty of over the past two decades causes fast blossomers to miss their normal contact with insect pollinators. I personally observed this around three or four years ago with an early blossoming cherry tree that was in full flower long before a bee was seen. No crop that year.
It just happens often enough to be observed. A typically cooler climate regime pretty well ends that risk as the bees are out by then even if it is a bit on the cool side.
Anyway we have a study that shows us the variation at the edge of things climatically over two decades. My only wish now is to have a slew of comparables, perhaps maintained by weather stations. That would also be a great check of general conditions and may naturally spot drift in measurement.
We definitely have problems with insect populations, except that insect populations are capable of remarkable recoveries in a short time period. The domestic honey bee is hardly the only insect taking care of business. Our problems arise with monoculture in which we have too many flowers at one time.
Widespread reports of a decline in the population of bees and other flower-visiting animals have aroused fear and speculation that pollination is also likely on the decline. A recent University of Toronto study provides the first long-term evidence of a downward trend in pollination, while also pointing to climate change as a possible contributor.
"Bee numbers may have declined at our research site, but we suspect that a climate-driven mismatch between the times when flowers open and when bees emerge from hibernation is a more important factor," says James Thomson, a scientist with U of T's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Thomson's 17-year examination of the wild lily in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado is one of the longest-term studies of pollination ever done. It reveals a progressive decline in pollination over the years, with particularly noteworthy pollination deficits early in the season. The study will be published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences on September 6.
Three times each year, Thomson compared the fruiting rate of unmanipulated flowers to that of flowers that are supplementally pollinated by hand.
"Early in the year, when bumble bee queens are still hibernating, the fruiting rates are especially low," he says. "This is sobering because it suggests that pollination is vulnerable even in a relatively pristine environment that is free of pesticides and human disturbance but still subject to climate change."
Thomson began his long-term studies in the late 1980s after purchasing a remote plot of land and building a log cabin in the middle of a meadow full of glacier lilies. His work has been supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.