This is an article from the Christian Science Monitor: “What’s happening to the bees?: Suddenly, the bees farmers and growers rely on are vanishing. Researchers are scrambling to find out why.” Worth a read.
Here’s why we might care:
While staple crops like wheat and corn are pollinated by wind, some 90 cultivated flowering crops – from almonds and apples to cranberries and watermelons – rely heavily on honeybees trucked in for pollinization. Honeybees pollinate every third bite of food ingested by Americans, says a Cornell study.
Here’s why it’s happening:
For many entomologists, the bee crisis is a wake-up call. By relying on a single species for pollination, US agriculture has put itself in a precarious position, they say. A resilient agricultural system requires diverse pollinators. This speaks to a larger conservation issue. Some evidence indicates a decline in the estimated 4,500 potential alternate pollinators – native species of butterflies, wasps. and other bees. The blame for that sits squarely on human activity – habitat loss, pesticide use, and imported disease – but much of this could be offset by different land-use practices.
Moving away from monoculture, say scientists, and having something always flowering within bee-distance, would help natural pollinators. This would make crops less dependent on trucked-in bees, which have proved to be vulnerable to die-offs.