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Bees have fallen into hard times across much of the planet in recent years, raising concern among farmers and environmentalists alike. However, it's not just bees that are rapidly disappearing. Susprimos bumblebees also feel the heat, and it literally is.
Climate change is decimating bumblebees in much of the world, Canadian scientists have warned.
Using long-term data for 66 species of bumblebees in North America and Europe based on some 550,000 records, a team of researchers at the University of Ottawa found that the bumblebee population in Europe fell by 17% between two periods examined: from 1901 to 1974. and from 2000 to 2014. In North America, the figure was even more dramatic at 46%.
Heating temperatures are mainly responsible for the decrease in the number of bumblebees. However, changes in land uses and the widespread use of pesticides have also been contributing factors on both continents.
The decade between 2010 and 2019 was the hottest decade on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. Bumblebees thrive in cooler, moderately humid climates with changing seasons. Increasingly warmer temperatures have limited its ability to colonize new areas, scientists say.
Bumblebees are larger than bees and do not make honey. However, they play an important role as pollinators for both wild plants and crops such as fruits, berries, tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.
"Bumblebees are among the best pollinators we have in the wildlife system," says Peter Soroye, a researcher at the University of Ottawa, author of the study on the disappearance of bumblebees, published in the journal Science.
“They are out for really long periods of the year in many different weather conditions and they visit a wide variety of flowers. They really are a critical piece of these natural landscapes that we like to enjoy, "he adds.
Nor is it just bees and bumblebees that are disappearing at an alarming rate. Myriad insects have been losing out in a world rapidly remade by human hands and actions. The invertebrate population has plummeted by about 45% in just 35 years or so. Arthropod numbers have plunged into what has been called an insect apocalypse.
The disappearance of insects from nature has alarmed environmentalists because insects are invaluable parts of ecosystems, serving as pollinators for plants and food for other animals. The natural world will be a greatly diminished place without them.
"The things we grew up with when we were kids fade very quickly," laments Jeremy Kerr, professor of biology at the University of Ottawa.