- Issue: Fall 2014
Hard times have befallen the honeybee. Over the past decade, threats including pathogens, the loss of critical bee habitat, exposure to pesticides and colony collapse disorder have thrown both commercially managed bees and some of their wild cousins into a downward spiral. Colony numbers in the US have dropped to their lowest in 50 years.
That’s bad news for more than bees: According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, 90% of the world’s food supply comes from about 100 crop species, and 71 of those crops (especially fruits and vegetables) rely on bees for pollination. In the US, bee activities across apple orchards, pumpkin patches and alfalfa farms—among a variety of others—generate $15 billion a year.
So there’s much more at stake than just wildflowers and honey. These tiny creatures help turn a huge wheel in the world’s agriculture system.
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