Disappearing Bees Threaten Food Supply
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3 May 07
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Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have.
Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.
In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.
U.S. beekeepers in the past few months have lost one-quarter of their colonies — about five times the normal winter losses. The problem started in November and seems to have spread to 27 states, with similar collapses reported in Brazil, Canada and parts of Europe.
"This crisis threatens to wipe out production of crops dependent on bees for pollination," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns.
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See also The Bees Who Flew
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