Forests That Have Been Burned By Wildfire Attract A Diversity Of Bees
Ever since pre-school our teachers, as well as Smokey the Bear, have told us that forest fires are bad. It would certainly be hard to argue that forest fires are, in any way, good. Forest fires not only put human lives at risk, but the damage they do to the environment, and to forest wildlife, is immense. Forest land also reduces air pollution, as forests absorb carbon containing contaminants in the air. The past decade has seen numerous wildfires storming through wooded areas located in the southwest and western United States. In addition to forest fires, declining bee populations have also been a modern environmental and economic concern. So how could these two modern issues be related? It turns out that forest fires ultimately promote a greater diversity in wild bee populations. So if there is anything good to say about forest fires, it would be that they result in an increase in the amount and diversity of bee populations. Although this sounds strange, a two year study has confirmed that recently burned forest land attracts a large amount of different types of bee species. There is a logical reason as to why an abundance of bees of many different types prefer recently burned forest land as a habitat.
According to one of the researchers, moderate to severe forest fires create conditions that lead to a greater abundance and diversity of bees. The study is being conducted in Oregon where more than five hundred types of bees contribute to crop and wild plant pollination. Forest fires ultimately lead to greater productivity by increasing bee diversity and population numbers.
The reason for the increase in the amount and diversity of bees in burned forests has to do with the abundance of new plant life that needs pollinating. New forms of plant life spring up in burned forests because light reaches the soil much easier. When forests are in their normal state, the abundance of leaves and branches on tall trees prevents sunlight from shining through. Without this extra sunshine, new plant life will not grow, and bees will have no purpose in forests. The point of the study is not to burn forests; rather the burned forests are reminiscent of the early stages of forest life. This is when tall trees have yet to grow and the forest land is a hotbed of insect diversity, especially bee diversity. When forests exist in more mature stages, the diversity of insect life is much less. The lack of young forests, also known as seral forests, could be contributing to the decrease in bee populations.
Do you think the forests of Oregon would see an increase in bees if vegetation was planted by humans?