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304 pages, Hardcover
First published July 10, 2018
A bumblebee species native to the Himalayas is thought to be the world's highest-flying insect: it is still able to hover at elevations beyond the peak of Mount Everest.
[Regarding a dead bee the author had dipped in wheat flour to see how much pollen it might carry versus a wasp] On the scale, the bee's weight had increased by 28.5 percent, which would equate to something like a fifty-pound backpack for an average-sized person. That's a pretty good haul for a stiff, inanimate specimen, and it's not surprising that live individuals do even better--wild bumblebees have been caught carrying pollen loads in excess of half their body weight.
Bumblebees and honeybees transported far from their nests in dark boxes have made their way home again from distances of more than six miles, and an orchid bee once made such a journey from a distance of fourteen miles.
When farmers and orchards devote hundreds or thousands of acres to a single crop, it creates a brief and intense flowering period that often overwhelms local bee populations, particularly in highly cultivated landscapes with limited nesting habitat.So, a stopgap solution is a cottage industry of pollination services...mobile hives for rent. The problems with this should be obvious: transportation can be harmful to the health of bees; not all bees are adapted to general pollination - many need specific habitats and food sources. Now, the purveyors do tend to ship around the kinds of bees that can pollinate different crops, but that is still not a sustainable solution (hint: native bee populations is a solution.)