About one mouthful in three in our diets directly or indirectly benefits from honey bee pollination. While there are native pollinators (honey bees came from the Old World with European colonists).
The number of managed honey bee colonies has dropped from 5 million in the1940s to only 2.5 million today. Honeybee colony health has been declining since the 1980s with the advent of new pathogens and pests.
Scott Hoffman Black is executive director of the Xerces Society, a Portland, Oregon-based invertebrate-conservation organization. "Prior to the advent of large-scale monoculture agriculture in the fifties and the use of lots of chemical pesticides, native bees and feral honeybees pollinated everything. It wasn't an issue. People didn't cart bees all over the country," he said.
Scientists estimate there are about 4,000 different species of wild bees that are native to North America… While the mites that have proven so devastating to domesticated honeybee populations cause little effect to the wild bees, pesticide use and habitat loss are taking their toll, according to Black.
Honey bee populations have suddenly begun to decline, and some British researchers think the proliferation of cell phones is a contributing cause. A limited study at Landau University has found that bees will abandon their hives when cell phones are turned on and placed next to them. What is known is that there are suddenly fewer bees to pollinate plants!
In case after case bee keepers in the U.S. and Europe have reported something called Colony Collapse Disorder. In CCD, a hive's inhabitants desert the colony, leaving only queens and eggs.
"Are honey bees the canary in the coal mine?" asks Jerry Hayes, an official with the Florida Department of Agriculture. "What are honey bees trying to tell us that we humans should be paying more attention to?"
While the cell phone theory might seem far fetched, the British study isn't the first to suggest that man's technology might be short circuiting bees' navigation systems. German researchers have shown that bees' behavior is different near power lines.
A few scientists also think the introduction of genetically modified crops could also be linked to the sudden disappearance of the honey bee.
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