Dwindling wild bees populations are putting crops at risk as the pollinators population numbers are down a slippery slope in the past decades. A new study from the University of Vermont has created the first map of wild bees populations in California, the Great Plains and the southern Mississippi River Valley.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, the University of Vermont study is the first to pinpoint the alarming decrease of wild bee populations using a map. Wild bees are valuable resource for the U.S. economy. In fact, worldwide, crops, the agricultural sectors and other industries depend on wild bees for success. Not only these sectors, but natural ecosystems are highly dependent on wild bees and other pollinators for survival.
Recently, a number of studies have drawn an alarm signal: dwindling wild bees populations are putting crops at risk. The University of Vermont study looked at the role wild bees play in agricultural pollinations. Wild bees populations were tracked in agricultural regions nationwide, including the three mentioned above. As per the results of the research, 39 percent of the crops under scrutiny depend on these pollinators. With the populations numbers on a declining path, these highly-dependant crops are already showing signs of decline themselves.
Taylor Ricketts who is the director of the Gund Institute with the University of Vermont stated:
“It’s clear that pollinators are in trouble. What has been less clear is where they are in the most trouble”,
adding that the declining numbers of wild bee populations will have severe consequences for farmers, agricultural produce and ultimately food stocks.
There are approximately 4,000 species of honey bees known in the U.S. Their population numbers have gone down at an alarming rate as well. Recently, colony collapse syndrome has hit honey bee colonies nationwide. However, wild bee populations are also in danger. Between 2008 and 2013, the numbers have decreased by 23 percent.
With the increasing use of toxic and harmful pesticides, the wild bees colonies have been reducing more and more. In addition, diseases, natural habitat destruction and climate change took their toll on population numbers.
The new study may not tell a new story. However, a visualization of dropping wild bees populations numbers might help us understand that strategies to help these pollinators thrive once more must be set in place.
For instance, orchards could also harbor vegetation that attracts wild bees. Private gardens, lawns and parks could also be enriched with these types of vegetation. Using less of the harmful pesticides or curbing their use altogether is another strategy. However, these remain a personal choice for the moment. If the services provided by wild bees populations are to be upheld, federal supervision for boosting wild bees population numbers is required.
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