How will climate change impact the flight of the bumblebee?

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Rising temperatures may help bees from northern regions fly better, but events like cold snaps and heatwaves could push them past their limits, harm their ability to pollinate plants and cause crop diseases to spread.

Imperial College London researchers used flight mills ‑ devices to measure endurance of insects ‑ to discover bumblebees’ performance rose rapidly from the lower limit of 53F (12C) and peaked between 77 and 80F (25-27C). But beyond that, their ability started to decline.

Lead researcher Dr Richard Gill said: “It’s not just pollination. How different flying insects respond to warming temperatures could also affect the spread of insect-borne diseases and agricultural pest outbreaks that threaten food systems.”

Scientists now want to see how global warming influences other issues such as pesticide exposure. The findings were published in Functional Ecology.

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