The real reason to worry about bees
Honey bees should be on everyone’s worry list, and not because of the risk of a nasty sting, an expert on the health of those beneficial insects. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provide remedies, for what is killing honey bees.
Sep. 10, 2013 — Honeybees should be on everyone’s worry list, and not because of the risk of a nasty sting, an expert on the health of those beneficial insects said in Indianapolis today at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).Set aside the fact that the honeybee’s cousins — hornets, wasps and yellow jackets — actually account for most stings, said Richard Fell, Ph.D. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provide remedies, for what is killing honeybees.”Some estimates put the value of honeybees in pollinating fruit, vegetable and other crops at almost $15 billion annually,” Fell said. “Without bees to spread pollen from the male parts of plants to the female parts, fruit may not form. That would severely impact consumers, affecting the price of some of the healthiest and most desirable foods.”Farmers use honeybees to pollinate more than 100 different fruit and vegetable crops around the country in an approach known as “managed pollination.” It involves placing bee hives in fields when crops are ready for pollination.”The biggest impacts from decreased hive numbers will be felt by farmers producing crops with high pollination requirements, such as almonds. Consumers may see a lowered availability of certain fruits and vegetables and some higher costs,” explained Fell.He discussed the ongoing decline in honeybee populations in the U.S. and some other countries — a condition sometimes termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). Although honeybees have been doing better in recent years, something continues to kill about 1 in every 3 honeybees each year.”There is a good bit of misinformation in the popular press about CCD and colony decline, especially with regard to pesticides,” Fell said. He is an emeritus professor of entomology at Virginia Tech, and an authority on colony decline in bees. “I think it is important to emphasize that we do not understand the causes of colony decline and CCD and that there are probably a number of factors involved. …
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