What’s the Buzz About Wild Bees?

Among all the pollinators, honeybees get the most publicity, deservedly, because of the problems around their survival. Claire Kremen’s research at the University of California, Berkeley, looks at diverse pollinators — not just bees, but also birds, moths and many insects — and the issues affecting them as emblematic of the broader problems of the food system. Pollinators are critical to global food production and about 75 percent of crop species depend on them to produce food that is more abundant and nutritious than it would otherwise be.

Monoculture — a single crop in an open field that may measure many hundreds of acres — increasingly depends on importing thousands of hives (by truck, usually) for the pollination of crops, especially in places like California. For example, the state produces 80 percent of the world’s almonds, which has concentrated the need for bees way beyond the capacity of native pollinators.

Focusing on a single crop reduces the biodiversity pollinators need to survive, and the timetable they best work on. It’s also a risky endeavor to rely on one species, especially when there are diseases, management problems and the inherent risks of transportation. Yet the large single-crop farms require the large apiaries to get the job done.

Read the rest of this article here.

One Comment

  1. Annie Whitfield said...

    Throughout the term I have been working on a project for my strategic public relations communications class, and it has been all about the importance of honeybees. I have also researched the idea of monoculture and its effect on the honeybees rate of survival. The honeybee colony collapse disorder was also a topic that I brought up and the idea of monoculture and the lack of diversity in their diets could possibly be a factor in the colony collapse disorder. I was happy to see that you brought up the importance of bees and pollinators because the majority of the public has no idea just how important they are.

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