Wild Bee Decline Can Damage US Crop Production

Posted: Dec 22 2015, 1:58am CST | by , Updated: Dec 22 2015, 2:16am CST, in News | Latest Science News

Wild Bees Decline Threatens US Crop Production
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Wild bee population has declined significanlty in some major agricultural regions across United States

Wild bee population has declined significantly in some major agricultural regions of United States and this is an alarming sign for both farmers and overall agricultural progress of the nation as these wild bees are necessary for the pollination of many crops.

Researchers from University of Vermont conducted the first national study for mapping wild bees and found that wild bees are disappearing rapidly from US major farmlands including California's Central Valley, which is known for its almond production, the Midwest's corn belt, and the Mississippi River valley. If the trend continues, it will cost farmers heavily and may ruin crop production in US.

Study suggests that more than $3 billion of US agricultural economy depends upon pollinators like wild bees for the reproduction of their crops and around 39% US crop regions rely on these native pollinators and spend millions of dollars annually to rent beehives.

But researchers have found there is a mismatch between the rising demand for pollination and availability of wild bees. They estimate that wild bee population has declined 23% from 2008 to 2013.

“It's clear that pollinators are in trouble," said co-author Taylor Ricketts. "But what's been less clear is where they are in the most trouble - and where their decline will have the most consequence for farms and food.”

Last year, the White House’s presidential memorandum also hinted on the significant loss of pollinators like honey bees, birds, bats and butterflies but the latest study reflected the extent of damage that has been done.

"Until this study, we didn't have a national mapped picture about the status of wild bees and their impacts on pollination, said lead author Insu Koh. “Now we have a map of the hotspots. It's the first spatial portrait of pollinator status and impacts in the U.S. and a tool that the researchers hope will help protect wild bees and pinpoint habitat restoration efforts.”

The report identifies 139 counties in major agricultural locations across United States like California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Great Plains, west Texas, and the southern Mississippi River valley where apples, pumpkins, almonds, blueberries, peaches, pears and plums are grown. These crops are highly dependent on pollinators but wild bees are least abundant in those areas and it can lead to less crop production.

“Most people can think of one or two types of bees, but there are 4,000 species in the U.S. alone,” said Taylor Ricketts one of the authors of the study. “Wild bees are precious natural resource we should celebrate and protect. If managed with care, they can help us continue to produce billions of dollars in agricultural income and a wonderful diversity of nutritious food.”

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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