Warmer spring temperatures are causing bees to
hatch earlier, putting them out of sync with the flowers that they
pollinate, a new study shows.
The researchers say the study is the first of
its kind to show climate change affecting the sort of relationships
between species that have evolved together over millions of
Pollination by insects is hugely important for many plants.
Insects are responsible for pollinating around
80-85 per cent of commercial crops, for example, amounting to
around a third of global food production.
Successful pollination depends on insects being
active at the same time the plants are flowering, and many plants
have evolved specifically to attract particular insects.
The flowers of the Ophrys
sphegodes, or 'Early spider orchid', for example, look
like the female of its principal pollinator, the Andrena
nigroaenea bee. The orchid even gives off a
as the female.
This fools the male bees into thinking the
flowers are females, and so they try to mate with them. Through
this process, known as 'pseudocopulation', the bees unwittingly
spread the orchid's pollen as they fly from flower to
So far, so sordid. But the new study,
published in Current Biology, finds that climate change is
affecting this relationship, with implications for spider orchids
and other plants that rely on