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article imageU.S. crop reduction a consequence of bee decline

By Tim Sandle     Jan 2, 2016 in Environment
The first national study of bee populations in the U.S. has produced some alarming statistics about the rate of decline. The consequences of this for agriculture could be substantial.
The study has pinpointed 139 counties in the U.S. where the falling wild bee supply and rising crop pollination demand will have a long-term economic impact. Bees contribute an estimated $3 billion to the U.S. economy each year. The most "at risk" regions include California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Great Plains, west Texas, and the southern Mississippi River valley. The crops most at risk include almonds, blueberries and apples.
Data relating to bee populations collated by the University of Vermont suggests wild bee populations have declined by 23 percent between 2008 and 2013. While bee declines have been reported, what has been missing from such analysis is precisely where and which areas face the biggest threats. Lead researcher Insu Koh has produced such an interactive map.
Reasons for bee decline include hive attacks from parasites and the indiscriminate use of harmful pesticides, like neonicotinoids. Examples of pesticides include imidacloprid, thiamethoxam and clothianidin.
The research is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research paper is titled "Modeling the Status, Trends, and Impacts of Wild Bee Abundance in the United States."
The decline of bee populations in the U.S. is significant enough for the White House to issue a warning. The briefing note ('The Economic Challenge Posed by Declining Pollinator Populations') stated: "over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies."
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