"Declining Bee Populations Pose A Threat to Global Agriculture"

"The danger that the decline of bees and other pollinators represents to the world’s food supply was highlighted this week when the European Commission decided to ban a class of pesticides suspected of playing a role in so-called 'colony collapse disorder.'"

"One of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest. And in the past several months, a scramble in California’s almond groves has given the world a taste of what may lie in store for food production if the widespread — and still puzzling — decimation of bee colonies continues.

For much of the past 10 years, beekeepers, primarily in the United States and Europe, have been reporting annual hive losses of 30 percent or higher, substantially more than is considered normal or sustainable. But this winter, many U.S. beekeepers experienced losses of 40 to 50 percent or more, just as commercial bee operations prepared to transport their hives for the country’s largest pollinator event: the fertilizing of California’s almond trees.

Spread across 800,000 acres, California’s almond orchards typically require 1.6 million domesticated bee colonies to pollinate the flowering trees and produce what has become the state’s largest overseas agricultural export. But given the widespread bee losses to so-called “colony collapse disorder” this winter, California’s almond growers were able to pollinate their crop only through an intense, nationwide push to cobble together the necessary number of healthy bee colonies."

Elizabeth Grossman reports for Yale Environment 360 April 30, 2013.

Source: YaleE360, 05/01/2013