An ecologist has explained why he focuses on creating nappies for bees.
Tobin Hammer has made headlines numerous times for his remarkable research efforts but also due to his straightforwardness regarding today’s most urgent environmental issues.
Now the University of California (UC) researcher has given astonishing detail on his latest endeavour which may involve diapers exclusively designed for pollinators.
Speaking to Californian radio station KCRW, Tobin explained: “Bees have both pathogens that live in their gut and also beneficial bacteria. That may have a role in bee health.”
He added: “There’s evidence that gut parasites are one of the contributors to the declines in recent years. We’re looking at interactions between parasites and beneficial bacteria in the bee to understand what is going on there.”
Tobin and his colleagues currently concentrate on taking samples from captured bees. The scientists have also analysed the insects’ vomit.
But the UC expert revealed: “We’re doing experiments right now to test whether we can use faecal samples, bee poop, to characterise the bacteria and parasites in their gut.
“I’m hoping that we figure out how microbes play a role in bee declines and how they might be used to help protect wild bees.”
Tobin admitted he would not be surprised if people would one day mainly remember him for having crafted nappies for bees.
However, the scientist emphasised the importance of the issue and revealed his long-term goal is to create microorganisms which help to save any bee species which need support.
Speaking about the crucial role of solitary bees and feral pollinators, he explained: “Here in California, honeybees are not part of our native biodiversity. And all of those other bees are also really critical parts of the ecosystem.”
“A lot of pollination services from these solitary bees are coming into farms and pollinating crops. So they are really critical for plant reproduction and also our food supply.”
The US State of California is home to more than 1,000 native pollinator species. Most of them do not produce honey.