During the National Bumblebee Nest Survey, more than 700 volunteers surveyed their own gardens plus one of six different countryside habitats for bumblebee nests. They found that gardens contain the highest densities of bumblebee nests (36 nests per ha), followed by hedgerows, fence lines and woodland edges (20-37 nests/ha). Nest densities were lower in woodland and grassland (11-15 nests/ha). Until now, little has been known about which habitats are best for bumblebee nests.
According to the study's lead author, Dr Juliet Osborne of Rothamsted Research: “Gardens clearly provide an important habitat for bumblebees and, although in the countryside the total area occupied by field margins and hedgerows is relatively small, sympathetic management – as encouraged by current environmental stewardship schemes – could improve bumblebee nesting opportunities in farmland.”
As well as providing important information on which habitats are the most important for bumblebee nests, the study also shows what a valuable contribution members of the public can make to ecological research. “We were delighted that people volunteered to do the survey. The success of the survey shows that public participation is very useful for monitoring bumblebees,” says Osborne.
Bumblebees are important pollinators of our crops and wild plants, but their populations have declined dramatically over the past 50 years. The decline is thought to be linked to the impact of modern farming methods on bumblebees' food plants. But as well as food, bumblebees need nesting sites for queens to start new colonies in spring.
Gardens are attractive nest sites for bumblebees for many reasons. Osborne says: “The diversity of garden features and gardening styles provide a large variety of potential nesting sites compared to more uniform countryside habitats. Areas with gardens have a high concentration of boundary features, such as hedges, fences, and garden buildings, which are suitable for nesting. Bumblebees also like nesting in compost heaps, bird boxes and flower beds. Gardeners like to see flowers almost all year round, so this ensures continuity of nectar and pollen sources for the bees throughout spring and summer at a density rarely encountered in the countryside.”
Bumblebees' penchant for nesting in linear habitats in the countryside is less easy to explain. It could simply be because bees are confined to these habitats in heavily cultivated areas, or relate to the fact that bees use landmarks like hedges for navigation. “Bumblebees are known to use linear features such as hedgerows to guide their foraging activity and queen bumblebees may found more nests in or near linear features because they could act as conspicuous linear landmarks to help them get back home,” Osborne says.
Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Machine learning helps predict worldwide plant-conservation priorities
04.12.2018 | Ohio State University
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
17.12.2018 | Studies and Analyses
17.12.2018 | Life Sciences
17.12.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering