British bees waking up earlier due to hotter climate risk threatening the pollination of crops, warn scientists

Author: Maria Chiorando

Read Time:   |  15th July 2023

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Bees are waking up an average of 6.5 days earlier for every degree Celsius rise in temperature, according to research


Bees in Britain are waking up earlier due to climate change – and this is threatening the pollination of some crops, scientists are warning.

Research, published in the journal Ecology and Evolutionfound they are waking up an average of 6.5 days earlier for every degree Celsius rise in temperature.

And this means they are at risk of losing sync with the plants they depend on say the researchers from the University of Reading.

As a result, they may not have enough energy to pollinate crops – for example, apples and pears, effectively – or at all.

The scientists examined 88 different species of wild bees over 40 years for their research, analysing more than 350,000 individual recordings.

They found that the temperature-related changes in their emergence dates were linked to climate change.

Harder for bees

Study co-author, Chris Wyver, a doctoral student in Entomology at Reading, said: “Rising temperatures are making life tougher for bees.

“Warmer conditions mean bees emerge from hibernation earlier, but there may not be enough food to provide energy for them when they start buzzing about.”

They must sync their waking dates to the exact dates that plants flower, so they can source pollen and nectar, and increase their chances of surviving and reproducing.

Dr Wyver explained: “Matching wake-up dates with plant flowering is vital for newly emerged bees because they need to find pollen and nectar to increase their chances of survival and produce offspring.

“A mismatch means they cannot pollinate effectively.

“Less natural pollination could lead to farmers needing to use managed honeybees, meaning greater costs, which may be passed on to consumers. We could see even more expensive apples, pears, and vegetables in supermarkets as a result.”

Do you want to help the bees? Find out how to attract bees to your garden with plants they love

Featured photo © proxyminder Via Getty Images


Written by

Maria Chiorando

Maria is an editor and journalist. Her work has been published by the Huffington Post, the Guardian, TechnoBuffalo, Plant Based News, and Kent on Sunday among other national and regional titles.

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