the flight of the bumble bee

Global warming is shrinking the terrain where bumblebees live in North America and Europe, with these vital pollinators departing the southernmost and hottest parts of their ranges while failing to move north into cooler climes, scientists say.

Their study, published on Thursday, used records from 1901 to 2010 to track 67 bumblebee species, finding that the insects have surrendered about 185 miles (300 km) from the southern end of the regions they called home on both continents.

This is the ‘climate vise,’ said University of Ottawa biologist Jeremy Kerr, with the bumblebees “stuck at the northern edges of ranges while the southern edges are crushed inward and those populations are lost.”

Bumblebees are declining incredibly fast and the fingerprints of human-caused climate change are all over these changes, Kerr added. “Even more incredibly to us, these effects are often nearly identical across continents, occurring at the same pace in both Europe and North America.” Kerr said dramatic action should be considered: a proposal called “assisted migration” involving a large-scale relocation of bee populations into new areas where they might thrive.

More generally, losing pollinators is a sign that we are playing dangerously with life-support systems we can’t do without, Kerr added. “That is an experiment we should never have started.” Heat Is Online, 10 Jul 2015 – Reuters