Yes, well done, this is how evolution works

Bees must become city dwellers to in order to survive, according to a new study which found the insects now fare better in towns.

Scientists compared the progress of colonies in urban, village and rural environments and found numbers are roughly three times healthier in built-up areas than in the country.

The researchers at Holloway University believe predators, agricultural pesticides and a reduction of food in rural areas mean city gardens and other green spaces have now become safer and more nutritious for bees than their traditional habitats.

The crucial pollinators are under significant strain, partly due to the intensification of arable farming.

Environment changes, certain parts of previous species thrive, others don’t. That’s how that evolution thing does work.

But the really interesting part here is – well, we should be having more suburban sprawl, shouldn’t we? Because that’s where biodiversity exists, isn’t it?

7 comments on “Yes, well done, this is how evolution works

  1. “partly due to the intensification of arable farming.”

    Bollocks. Arable farming hasn’t changed much in 40 years. In fact its got less intensive since the 1970s. The number of chemicals that can be used on farmland has declined due to the withdrawal of some of the nastier ones, the use of them has been restricted by law, plus their ever increasing price vs a static grain price means no farmer will use them unless absolutely necessary, CAP rules on environmental features has meant farms have far more non farmed areas than they did 40 years ago when you could still grub hedges out and they’d pay you grants to improve land (ie drain it and make it more productive). Nowadays you have to leave margins round all your fields that are unsprayed and unfertilised, plus hedges are sacrosanct, and there are all manner of incentives to remove land from production and leave it for the birds and the bees. I’ve been involved in arable farming for 30 years and in that time the process has hardly changed, in method and intensity. New varieties of crops that yield more, new and much larger machinery, but basically the same process its always been. If bees managed to survive farming in the 70s then todays farming will be having very little impact.

  2. Most beeks will tell you that the best honey is urban and have known this for years. Wider range of flowers and a flowering season that sometimes lasts through to the end of September.

    Bees don’t have to fly as far when they’re foraging so they have longer lifetimes and the colony is more productive.

    The countryside is mono-cultural and there’s often nothing much around beyond the middle of June. In North Bucks I used to see honey yields drop to nothing by the end of June, and sometimes had to feed the bees to keep them going in July.

  3. Well you’d have trouble finding anywhere with more biodiversity than Holloway. Dunno about the insects, though. Apart from the roaches. But which way evolution is progressing is a source of considerable dispute.

  4. What Jim says could still be compatible with the report which is at
    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/285/1881/20180807
    They are going back 80 years so if there was major damage to the forage resource for pollinators from the 1930s to the 1960s ( reference 8 is good ), the partial recovery described from the 1970s onwards wouldn’t make much difference.
    Just saying that Jim and the analysis could both be right.

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