18 July 2024
Queen bumblebees survive underwater for days

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Queen Bumblebees’ Surprising Ability to Survive Underwater

Bumblebees, those familiar fuzzy insects buzzing around flowers, have recently astonished scientists with a remarkable ability – surviving underwater for days. A study published on Wednesday revealed this unexpected trait, suggesting that these bees could potentially endure increased floods caused by climate change, which threaten their winter hibernation burrows.

The lead author of the study, Sabrina Rondeau, expressed optimism about the survival of these crucial pollinators amidst the concerning trend of declining bee populations globally. With the rise in global temperatures leading to more frequent and severe floods in various regions, the ability of bumblebees to withstand such conditions presents a glimmer of hope for their resilience.

Accidental Discovery of Queen Bumblebees’ Resilience

The discovery of queen bumblebees’ ability to survive underwater came about unexpectedly during Rondeau’s research on the impact of pesticide residues on these insects. While conducting an experiment for her doctoral studies, water inadvertently entered the tubes housing a few queen bumblebees. To her surprise, the bees managed to survive the drowning incident, prompting further investigation into this phenomenon.

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Rondeau and her team conducted experiments where hibernating queen bumblebees were submerged in water for varying durations, ranging from eight hours to seven days. Astonishingly, 81 percent of the submerged queens not only survived the seven-day ordeal but also remained alive eight weeks later after being returned to dry conditions. This remarkable resilience opens up new avenues for understanding the adaptability of these bees to challenging environmental conditions.

Implications for Bumblebee Conservation and Research

The study focused on common eastern bumblebees found in North America, known for their robust nature and relative resistance to population declines compared to other bee species. Rondeau speculated that the bees’ ability to withstand flooding might contribute to their overall survival and success in the face of environmental challenges. However, further research is needed to determine the long-term effects of underwater exposure on bee health and colony dynamics.

While the study sheds light on the resilience of queen bumblebees, there is a call for additional research on other bumblebee species to ascertain the prevalence of this unique survival trait. Understanding how different bee species respond to flooding events can provide valuable insights into their conservation and management in the changing climate scenario.

Future Prospects and Conservation Efforts

The unexpected revelation of queen bumblebees’ ability to survive underwater underscores the importance of continued research and conservation efforts to protect these vital pollinators. As climate change continues to pose challenges such as increased floods, it is crucial to identify strategies to safeguard bee populations and their habitats.

By unraveling the submerged secrets of bumblebee queens’ resilience, scientists aim to equip themselves with valuable knowledge to mitigate the impacts of environmental changes on bee populations. The study serves as a reminder of the intricate ways in which nature adapts to adversity, offering hope for the conservation of these essential insects in the face of evolving environmental threats.

Links to additional Resources:

1. National Geographic 2. Science Magazine 3. Smithsonian Magazine

Related Wikipedia Articles

Topics: Bumblebees, Climate change, Pollinators

Bumblebee
A bumblebee (or bumble bee, bumble-bee, or humble-bee) is any of over 250 species in the genus Bombus, part of Apidae, one of the bee families. This genus is the only extant group in the tribe Bombini, though a few extinct related genera (e.g., Calyptapis) are known from fossils. They...
Read more: Bumblebee

Climate change
In common usage, climate change describes global warming—the ongoing increase in global average temperature—and its effects on Earth's climate system. Climate change in a broader sense also includes previous long-term changes to Earth's climate. The current rise in global average temperature is more rapid than previous changes, and is primarily...
Read more: Climate change

Pollination
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from an anther of a plant to the stigma of a plant, later enabling fertilisation and the production of seeds. Pollinating agents can be animals such as insects, for example beetles or butterflies; birds, and bats; water; wind; and even plants themselves. Pollinating animals...
Read more: Pollination

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