Why 500 million bees have died in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro (BBC): More than 500 million bees have died in Brazil in the last three months. In the state of Rio Grande do Sul, 400 million dead bees were found - with beekeepers in four states reporting the mass deaths. Researchers have blamed the use of pesticides - chemical substances which are used to kill pests. Bees have a really important role in the food chain - with around one-third of the food we eat relying on pollination mainly by bees. These include fruits and vegetables such as avocados, broccoli and cherries. The main cause of death for these bees has been the use of pesticides containing products that are banned in Europe, such as neonicotinoids and fipronil. The EU imposed an almost total ban on neonicotinoids last April because of the serious harm it could cause to bees. But in the same year Brazil lifted restrictions on pesticides - despite opposition from environmentalists who called it the “poison package”. The use of pesticides in Brazil has increased, according to Greenpeace, with 193 products containing chemicals banned in the EU being registered in Brazil in the last three years. The country uses pesticides because its economy is so reliant on agriculture. Things aren’t looking good for bees around the world. In the United States, beekeepers lost four in 10 of their honeybee colonies in the past year, making it the worst winter on record.

NASA explores rocky exoplanet’s surface

Xinhua (LOS ANGELES): A new study using data from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Spitzer Space Telescope has provided a rare glimpse of a rocky exoplanet’s surface, according to a NASA release on Monday. The study, published Monday in the journal Nature, shows that the extrasolar planet’s surface may resemble that of Earth’s Moon or Mercury. The planet likely has little to no atmosphere and could be covered in the same cooled volcanic material found in the dark areas of the Moon’s surface, called mare, according to NASA. Discovered in 2018 by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, planet LHS 3844b is located 48.6 light-years from Earth and has a radius 1.3 times that of Earth. It orbits a small, cool type of star called an M dwarf, which may host a high percentage of the total number of planets in the galaxy. TESS found the planet via the transit method, which involves detecting when the observed light of a parent star dims because of a planet orbiting between the star and Earth.