In English

Dronning av mørk jordhumle Bombus terrestris på blomstrende lønn, Hovedøya i Oslo.

Arnstein Staverløkk | Norsk institutt for naturforskning via Artsdatabanken CC

Spring is here and it’s bumblebee time – when the panda of the insect world comes careening into your garden, buzzing good-naturedly enough to warm the heart of even the most hardened insect-hater. But is it looking a bit poorly? Could it do with a bit of help? We humans are quick to see human qualities in animals. And a lot of people have realized that insects are struggling and are keen to help. Here are a few facts and tips about what you can do for bumblebees – and what you ought not to do.

First things first: the big bumblebees that appear in spring are bumblebee queens. They’re the only ones that survive the winter – and now each and every one of them must singlehandedly start a new bumblebee colony. When the bumblebee queen comes tumbling out into the spring sunshine, she’s hungry. She needs pollen and nectar to produce a new colony. You can help her by planting trees and flowers that provide this kind of nutrition in springtime. Crocus and willows are great.

It’s a hard life being a bumblebee queen. She needs a lot of rest. New research shows that the queen spends most of her time sitting still, with only short flights in between. In other words if you find an active bumblebee in spring and it is sitting still, that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The best thing you can do is offer her your respectful admiration without disturbing her. 

The queen often sits still for up to an hour before pulling herself together enough to make a new flight. It is best not to disturb her royal highness while she’s taking a much-needed breather. That said, if you find a bumblebee queen who’s taking her break in a place where she may get trodden on, or if she stays in the same spot for hours at a time, you could consider moving her to a nectar-rich flower nearby.

Feeding bumblebees isn’t as smart as you might think. Sugar water is only a pale imitation of the real thing, plant nectar. It’s like tempting insects with junk food when they ought to be eating proper meals. In the long run that’s no good for us or the bumblebees. Besides, a bowl of something sweet may distract insects from the flowers they usually pollinate, and that isn’t good for the flowers.

In these corona times, we should also respect the need to protect insects against infection. So you should never give honey to bumblebees or bees, because honey can contain bacteria that lead to foulbrood in domesticated bees. That doesn’t sound great – and indeed it isn’t. These bacteria can survive for years in honey, and if we feed the bumblebee mother honey, she can spread the bacteria to honeybees if they happen to visit the same flower afterwards.

If you’re going to give bumblebees anything at all, make it a 50/50 mixture of white sugar (not brown, which is more difficult to digest) and water, and drip a drop in front of them. But just be aware that you’re mostly doing it for your own sake rather than the bumblebee’s. Don’t set out a whole bowl of sugar water: that’s like throwing a massive party in the middle of the corona crisis – various parasites and microbes can easily be passed from one insect to another.

In conclusion: If you want to help bumblebees, make your garden a glorious flowering jungle from March to October. The best thing bumblebees can get is access to natural floral nectar. And bumblebees that seem tired to you are best left in peace. If necessary, move them up onto a flower. And never, ever give them honey.


Read more about bumblebees here:

In English:

In Norwegian:

Find insect-friendly flowers here:

If you want to do more for bumblebees, you can build a bumblebee box – see Atle Mjeldes instructions here:

Published 27. juni 2021 - 11:14 - Updated 27. juni 2021 - 11:14

My non-fiction books In English and other languages:

 Tapestries of Life (Norwegian: På naturens skuldre)
Kagge Forlag 2020, Non Fiction / Nature writing, Popular Science

Tapestries of Life

Harper Collins UK

"Trees clean air and water; hoverflies and bees pollinate our crops; the kingfisher inspired the construction of high-speed trains. In Tapestries of Life, bestselling author Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson explains how closely we are all connected with the natural world, highlighting our indelible link with nature’s finely knit system and our everyday lives.

In the heart of natural world is a life-support system like no other, a collective term that describes all the goods and services we receive – food, fresh water, medicine, pollination, pollution control, carbon sequestration, erosion prevention, recreation, spiritual health and so much more. In this utterly captivating book, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson sets out to explore these wonderful, supportive elements – taking the reader on a journey through the surprising characteristics of the natural world.

The second book by the bestselling author of Extraordinary Insects"

Extraordinary Insects / Terra Insecta  (Norwegian: Insektenes planet)  
Non-fiction / Nature.  J.M. Stenersens Forlag, March 2018


Extraordinary insects

Harper Collins UK

In 2018 I published a popular science book on insects and their importance, Insektenes planet, nominated for the Brage book award as best popular science book of 2018 and now translated into 23 languages. You can read reviews of the UK editions, out in 2019 (Paperback April 2020) here: Extraordinary Insects

There are more insects on the globe than there are sand grains on all beaches in the US. Most of these insects never bother us - on the contrary, we are completely dependent on them. In the book Extraordinary Insects, Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson tells you why we cannot live without these little creatures. She shows you the bizarre and fascinating world of insects, with far more links to our human world than you probably realize.

Did you know that insects carry their skeleton on the outside of their body, like a coat of armor? That they can have ears on their knees, eyes on the penis and a tongue under their tiny feet? Or did you know that insects, despite a brain the size of a sesame seed, are able to count to four and can recognize faces?

Every other species on the globe is an insect, and they live everywhere: In the freezing cold summits of the Himalayas and in the hot springs of Yellowstone, in baptismal fonts, in naturally occurring petroleum pools in California, in the stomach of horses and in the nostrils of walrus.

Moreover, the insects have been here for a long time. They have, by a wide margin, seen the dinosaurs both come and go. For more than 150 million years, the fluttering wings of insects dominated the air - no one else could fly. Millions of years before we humans set foot on Earth, insects had mastered agriculture: Termites grow fungi for food, and ants keep aphids like dairy cattle.

"It's really the insects that rule the world. Insects are the little ones that make the world tick. We need them for pollination, decomposition and soil formation, to be food for other animals, keep harmful organisms at bay, disperse seeds, help us in the research and inspire us with their smart solutions”, says Sverdrup-Thygeson.

The book recounts both historical and present-day examples of products and ideas stemming from insects. Just think of chocolate. If you like chocolate, you should really love insects. The tiny chocolate midge, no bigger than the size of a pinhead, is the only creature that can pollinate the cocoa flowers - so we get cocoa beans and chocolate.

We should also thank the insects for a number of famous documents, including The Declaration of Independence – written with iron gall ink made from small, apple-like structures on oak trees, induced by a tiny wasp. Today, termites has inspired self-cooling buildings in the tropics, with 90% lower energy consumption than normal. Fruit flies have been involved in six Nobel prizes in medicine. Cockroaches might save people in collapsed buildings, beetles can help us break down plastic and ants can give us new antibiotics.

Although the number of insects seems almost unimaginable, recent studies document a sharp decline in their abundance. While the human population has doubled in the past 35 years, the number of small, spineless critters has decreased by 45 percent. This might have far-reaching consequences. We actually do not know what will happen in a world with collapsing insect populations. Just that it will be very different.

For more info about the book, please see

Link to reviews: UK:, US:, Amazon:

Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies  (Insektenes hemmeligheter)  
Non-fiction / Children.  Kagge Forlag, August 2019

Beetles, Bugs and Butterflies is aimed at the younger readers, 6-9 (9-12) years. Kids have a natural curiosity when it comes to small critters, and I want to stimulate this interest. My book covers cool and common insects we find all around us. Through facts, fun-facts and colorful illustrations by Nina Marie Andersen at @fabelillustrasjon, the intention is to educate in a fun way. This book stayed on the bestseller list for 5 months after publication and will be published abroad in 2020. Want a look inside?

The Sloth and the Sloth Moth  (Dovendyret og sommerfuglen) 
Non-fiction / Children.  Ena Forlag, February 2020

This book is aimed at kids 3 to 6 years old. It tells the amazing story of the sloth and the moth that lives in the sloth’s fur – and how the two depend on each other. Full page color illustrations by Bård Sletvold Torkildsen. You can look inside here:





Here are links to my ongoing projects (with English summaries at the end):


Scientific papers:

(You can also find my papers on my profile on Research Gate or Google Scholar)

2020, so far

  • Wetherbee, R., et al., Hollow oaks and beetle functional diversity: Significance of surroundings extends beyond taxonomy. Ecology and Evolution, 2020. 10(2): p. 819-831.
  • Pilskog, H.E., et al., Species composition of beetles grouped by host association in hollow oaks reveals management-relevant patterns. Journal of Insect Conservation, 2020. 24(1): p. 65-86.
  • Jacobsen, R.M., et al., Near-natural forests harbor richer saproxylic beetle communities than those in intensively managed forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 2020. 466: p. 118124.
  • Halbritter, A.H., et al., The handbook for standardized field and laboratory measurements in terrestrial climate change experiments and observational studies (ClimEx). Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2020. 11(1): p. 22-37.


  • Pilskog, H.E., et al., Long-lasting effects of logging on beetles in hollow oaks. Ecology and Evolution, 2018. 8(20): p. 10126-10137.
  • Jacobsen, R.M., et al., Exclusion of invertebrates influences saprotrophic fungal community and wood decay rate in an experimental field study. Functional Ecology, 2018. 32(11): p. 2571-2582.
  • Birkemoe, T., Jacobsen, R. M., A, S.-T. & Biederman, P. 2018. Insect-fungus interactions in dead wood systems. - I Ulyshen, M. D., red. Saproxylic Insects. Springer, USA
  • Jacobsen, R. M., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Kauserud, H. & Birkemoe, T. 2018. Revealing hidden insect–fungus interactions; moderately specialized, modular and anti-nested detritivore networks. - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Biological Sciences 285. http://dx.doi.org10.1098/rspb.2017.2833
  • Nordén, J., Åström, J., Josefsson, T., Blumentrath, S., Ovaskainen, O., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Nordén, B. 2018. At which spatial and temporal scales can fungi indicate habitat connectivity? - Ecological Indicators 91: 138-148. http://dx.doi.org10.1016/j.ecolind.2018.03.062


  • Gillespie, M. A. K., Birkemoe, T. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2017. Interactions between body size, abundance, seasonality, and phenology in forest beetles. - Ecology and Evolution 7: 1091-1100.
  • Jacobsen, R. M., Kauserud, H., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., et al. 2017. Wood-inhabiting insects can function as targeted vectors for decomposer fungi. - Fungal Ecology 29: 76-84.
  • Skarpaas, O., Blumentrath, S., Evju, M. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2017. Prediction of biodiversity hotspots in the Anthropocene: The case of veteran oaks. - Ecology and Evolution: n/a-n/a.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Skarpaas, O., Blumentrath, S., et al. 2017. Habitat connectivity affects specialist species richness more than generalists in veteran trees. - Forest Ecology and Management 403: 96-102.


  • Evju, M. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. In press, 2016. Spatial configuration matters – a test of the Habitat Amount Hypothesis for plants in calcareous grasslands. - Landscape Ecology. (online early)
  • Pilskog, H. E., Birkemoe, T., Framstad, E. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2016. Effect of Habitat Size, Quality, and Isolation on Functional Groups of Beetles in Hollow Oaks. - Journal of insect science 16.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Ørka, H. O., Gobakken, T. & Næsset, E. 2016. Can airborne laser scanning assist in mapping and monitoring natural forests? - Forest Ecology and Management 369: 116-125.



  • Evju, M., Blumentrath, S., Skarpaas, O., Stabbetorp, O. E. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2014. Plant species occurrence in a fragmented grassland landscape: the importance of species traits. - Biodiversity and Conservation 24: 547-561.
  • Fedrowitz, K., Koricheva, J., Baker, S. C., Lindenmayer, D. B., Palik, B., Rosenvald, R., Beese, W. J., Franklin, J. F., Kouki, J., Macdonald, E., Messier, C., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Gustafsson, L. 2014. Can retention forestry help conserve biodiversity? A meta-analysis. - Journal of Applied Ecology 51 (6): 1669-1679.
  • Gough, L., Birkemoe, T. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2014. Reactive forest management can also be proactive for wood-living beetles in hollow oak trees. - Biological Conservation 180: 75-83.
  • Laksforsmo Vindstad, O. P., Schultze, S., Jepsen, J. U., Biuw, E. M., Kapari, L. T., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Ims, R. A. 2014. Numerical responses of saproxylic beetles to rapid increases in dead wood availability following geometrid moth outbreaks in sub-arctic mountain birch forest. - PLoS ONE 9 (6).
  • Røed, K. H., Birkemoe, T., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Horak, J., Midthjell, L. & Leinaas, H. P. 2014. Isolation and characterization of ten microsatellite loci for the wood-living and threatened beetle Cucujus cinnaberinus (Coleoptera: Cucujidae). - Conservation Genetics Resources 6 (3): 641-643.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Bendiksen, E., Birkemoe, T. & Larsson, K.-H. 2014. Do conservation measures in forest work? A comparison of three area-based conservation tools for wood-living species in boreal forests. - Forest Ecology and Management 330: 8-16.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Gustafsson, L. & Kouki, J. 2014. Spatial and temporal scales relevant for conservation of dead-wood associated species: Current status and perspectives. - Biodiversity and Conservation 23 (3): 513-535.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Søgaard, G., Rusch, G. & Barton, D. N. 2014. Spatial overlap between environmental policy instruments and areas of high conservation value in forest. - PLoS ONE 9 (12).


  • Nilsen, E. B., Finstad, A. G., Næsje, T. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2013. Using mass scaling of movement cost and resource encounter rate to predict animal body size-Population density relationships. - Theoretical Population Biology 86: 23-28.


  • Gustafsson, L., Baker, S. C., Bauhus, J., Beese, W. J., Brodie, A., Kouki, J., Lindenmayer, D. B., Lõhmus, A., Pastur, G. M., Messier, C., Neyland, M., Palik, B., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Volney, W. J. A., Wayne, A. & Franklin, J. F. 2012. Retention forestry to maintain multifunctional forests: a world perspective. - BioScience 62: 633-645.
  • Lindenmayer, D. B., Franklin, J. F., Lõhmus, A., Baker, S. C., Bauhus, J., Beese, W., Brodie, A., Kiehl, B., Kouki, J., Pastur, G. M., Messier, C., Neyland, M., Palik, B., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Volney, J., Wayne, A. & Gustafsson, L. 2012. A major shift to the retention approach for forestry can help resolve some global forest sustainability issues. - Conservation Letters 5 (6): 421-431.


  • Birkemoe, T. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2011. Stable fly (Stomoxys calcitrans) and house fly (Musca domestica) densities: a comparison of three monitoring methods on pig farms. - Journal of Pest Science 84 (3): 273-280.
  • Skarpaas, O., Diserud, O. H., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Ødegaard, F. 2011. Predicting hotspots for red-listed species: multivariate regression models for oak-associated beetles. - Insect Conservation and Diversity 4 (1): 53-59.


  • Gustafsson, L., Kouki, J. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2010. Tree retention as a conservation measure in clear-cut forests of northern Europe: a review of ecological consequences. - Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 25 (4): 295-308.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2010. Colonization of experimentally arranged resource patches - a case study of fungivorous beetles. - Entomologica Fennica 21 (3): 139-150
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Skarpaas, O. & Ødegaard, F. 2010. Hollow oaks and beetle conservation: the significance of the surroundings. - Biodiversity and Conservation 19 (3): 837-852.
  • Timonen, J., Siitonen, J., Gustafsson, L., Kotiaho, J., Stokland, J. N., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Monkkonen, M. 2010. Woodland key habitats in northern Europe: concepts, inventory and protection. - Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 25 (4): 309-324.

 2009 and before

  • Fossestøl, K. O. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2009. Saproxylic beetles in high stumps and residual downed wood on clear-cuts and in forest edges. - Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 24 (5): 403-416.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Birkemoe, T. 2009. What window traps can tell us: effect of placement, forest openness and beetle reproduction in retention trees. - Journal of Insect Conservation 13 (2): 183-191.
  • Engen, S., Sæther, B.-E., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Grøtan, V. & Ødegaard, F. 2008. Assessment of species diversity from species abundance distributions at different localities. - Oikos 117 (5): 738-748.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A., Borg, P. & Bergsaker, E. 2008. A comparison of biodiversity values in boreal forest regeneration areas before and after forest certification. - Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 23: 236-243.
  • Komonen, A., Jonsell, M., Økland, B., Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Thunes, K. 2004. Insect assemblage associated with the polypore Fomitopsis pinicola: a comparison across Fennoscandia. - Entomologica Fennica 15: 102-112.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Lindenmayer, D. B. 2003. Ecological continuity and assumed indicator fungi in boreal forest: the importance of the landscape matrix. - Forest Ecology and Management 174: 353-363.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2002. Key habitats in the Norwegian production forest: A case study. - Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 17: 166-178.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Ims, R. A. 2002. The effect of forest clearcutting on the community of saproxyllic beetles on aspen. - Biological Conservation 10: 347-357.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 2001. Can 'continuity indicator species' predict species richness or red-listed species of saproxylic beetles? - Biodiversity and Conservation 10: 815-832.
  • Midtgaard, F., Rukke, B. A. & Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. 1998. Habitat use of the fungivorous beetle Bolitophagus reticulatus (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae): Effects of basidiocarp size, humidity and competitors. - European Journal of Entomology 95: 559-570.
  • Sverdrup-Thygeson, A. & Midtgaard, F. 1998. Fungus infected trees as islands in boreal forest: Spatial distribution of the fungivorous bettle Bolitophagus reticulatus (Coleoptera, Tenebrionidae). - Ecoscience 5: 486-493.
Published 27. juni 2016 - 13:40 - Updated 27. juni 2021 - 11:55