Bumblebee populations have dropped throughout the United States and Europe as Earth has heated up. Research from 2020 found that the number of areas populated by the insects had fallen 46% in North America and 17% in Europe. Places with steep declines also experienced dramatic swings in climate, including higher temperatures and more intense heat waves.
The hotter and wetter the weather, the more likely the bees were to grow lopsided wings.
The prospect of bee numbers plummeting further is a major concern because the insects play a key role in pollinating wildflowers and crops, including staples such as tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.
“This should reinforce the message that human contributions to high rates of changing climate can affect wildlife in many different ways, and we are putting these organisms at risk — which in the case of bees are crucial insect pollinators,” Richard Gill, a scientist at Imperial College London and co-author of the research paper, said. “They are amazing creatures that provide so many ecosystem services that we take for granted and we get essentially for free.”