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Increasingly Earlier Springs May Cause Massive Deaths of Birds And Bees

Increasingly Earlier Springs May Cause Massive Deaths of Birds And Bees

As spring becomes warmer, birds and bees could emerge even earlier, and they may struggle to survive if their normal food sources are not yet available. The plants, in turn, may receive suboptimal pollination, hurting the yield and quality of produce. The birds the bee populations and the crops they pollinate could suffer.

With their large body size and fuzzy hair, bumble bees are more adapted to colder climates and do not tolerate extended periods of high temperatures very well. This means even more bad news for bumble bees during summer heat waves, which have become more frequent and severe due to climate change. With warm weather and low precipitation, flowers produce less nectar to conserve energy. Reduced nectar means that pollinators get fewer calories and sugar which can lower pollinator health and reproduction.

Less bees mean less food for many species of birds. For birds that are already facing the mortality of nestlings and eggs because of heat in their nests, this additional stress will negatively impact the future generations of many species. When summer temperatures are on the rise, birds depend on adaptations to keep from overheating. Many adaptations are different variations of thermoregulation, the mechanism that warm-blooded animals use to balance their body temperature with their surroundings.

In extreme heat, you may find that birds will not visit your feeder. Try to find a shady spot for it, and consider putting out a water source (birdbath, slowly dripping spigot) as well.

Because their emergence times are altered, bees have fewer pollen resources and fewer mates. Furthermore, even if the bees can shift their range up the mountains to cooler climates (not all bee species can make shifts), they move away from certain desert plants that rely on the bees for pollination.

"Because climate change has sped up some signs of spring, birds and bees and butterflies and moths will be increasingly out of sync if they cannot adapt quickly. If you do one thing for the bees this year, plant a lot of spring flowering bulbs, in the ground or in pots. Include really early ones like crocus, but also a good variety so that there is a continuation of flowers, and different flowers suit different species of bees. Native plants are a good idea, as our bees and plants have evolved together, but some introduced plants are good too. Just avoid anything invasive or inflammable or bred so they are inaccessible to bees. Flowers bred with compound flowers can be hard for bees to get into, so go for versions with flat single flowers if you can."

Sue Nethercott Gardening Blogger


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