hidden europe 65

Polar bees

by hidden europe


The news is not great for polar bumble bees, which are well adapted to the Arctic climate. Climate change may not bode well for these bees in the Russian North, but the prospects for adventurous butterflies are on the up.

We watched the last bumble bees getting whatever they could from the few remaining patches of clover. And now they are gone. In much of Europe bees are deeply associated with warmth and sunshine. So here’s a cheer for Bombus glacialis, a hardy subspecies which is endemic to the High Arctic. The curious thing about this polar bee is that it is found on just two Arctic islands and they are nowhere near each other. One is Novaya Zemlya at the eastern extremity of the Barents Sea in the European Arctic and the other is Wrangel Island, over 3,000 km away to the east in the Chukchi Sea.

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