Thursday, 3 March 2016

Dutch Buzz: Bees Get Smaller, Men Taller

by Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer   |   February 24, 2016 02:32pm ET

A team of scientists took a closer look at declining bee populations in the Netherlands and discovered something unexpected — it wasn't just the bee populations that were shrinking. The bees themselves were getting smaller.

Over nearly a century and a half, big-bodied female bee species in the Netherlands have reduced in size by about 7 percent, according to a new study, the first to investigate variations in Dutch bee size over time. The researchers suggest that reduced habitats and resources could be causing the change, putting evolutionary pressure on the bees to shrink.

Their investigation began several years earlier, with a study analyzing the main drivers of bee decline, which they linked to diminishing numbers in the bees' host plants. They found that if a plant species dwindled, the number of bees that depended on that plant would soon follow suit, and that populations of large-bodied bee species plummeted more rapidly than that of small-bodied bees.

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