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Bad spring for bumblebees

09.05.2019 - 14:52
Býflugur á Akureyri
 Mynd: Fréttir
Many fewer bumblebees are buzzing around southwest Iceland than usual this spring. Queens are usually out and about at this time of year feeding up on nectar and preparing to nest for the summer. Things are disappointingly quiet this spring, and last summer’s endless rain is the likely reason.

Bumblebees play an important role in pollinating plants, both wild and cultivated.  

Their nests have two generations: the queen and all her offspring. The female ones are called drones and they run the nest; keeping it safe and gathering nectar and making honey. 

Insect specialist at the natural history institute Erling Ólafsson says the near constant rainfall last summer made it hard for the drones to fly, and many flowers were too wet to be of use to them when they got there.  

For this reason, the number of new autumn queens born was very low and their emergence into the world this spring has been hampered by a poor blossoming season for the dark-leaved willow—a tree that blooms early and provides young queens with an important first energy source early in the growing season. 

Erling says there is little that can be done now, other than hope for a good summer that allows the bees to rebuild and emerge strong again next spring. There is nothing more summerlike, he says, than watching fat bumblebees buzzing from one bright flower to the next on a warm, sunny day.