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Collapse of wild bee populations to devastate supply of almonds, blueberries and apples

Bee colonies

(NaturalNews) Wild bees are disappearing in some of the nation's most crucial agricultural areas – a phenomenon that may have devastating effects on crops such as blueberries, almonds and apples.

That's the conclusion of researchers at the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, who have prepared the first national map of bee populations in response to a 2014 White House memo calling for a "national assessment of wild pollinators and their habitats."

Their research is further confirmation that something is causing a rapid decline in wild bee populations in the United States – a decline which could soon begin having noticeable effects in terms of prices and availability of the many foods which depend on wild bee pollination, while negatively impacting the agricultural industry in general.

From the researchers' report:

"If losses of these crucial pollinators continue, the new nationwide assessment indicates that farmers will face increasing costs — and that the problem may even destabilize the nation's crop production."

The research indicates that wild bee populations declined in 23 percent of the contiguous states during the period between 2008 and 2013. Other findings include the fact that 39 percent of U.S. croplands that depend on wild bee pollination "face a threatening mismatch between rising demand for pollination and a falling supply of wild bees."

Long overdue research

A large portion of the United States agricultural economy – more than $3 billion each year – is dependent on wild pollinators.

"Until this study, we didn't have a national mapped picture about the status of wild bees and their impacts on pollination," says Insu Koh, who led the research team.

Director of the Gund Institute, and senior researcher on the study, Taylor Ricketts noted:

"It's clear that pollinators are in trouble. 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."

Now we have a map of the hot spots. It's the first spatial portrait of pollinator status and impacts in the U.S.

The areas most affected by the decline in wild bee populations include 139 counties located in important agricultural regions of California, the Pacific Northwest, West Texas, the Great Plains and Upper Midwest, and the southern Mississippi Valley.

Specialty crops that depend heavily on pollinators – such as watermelons, peaches, pumpkins, apples and pears – tend to be the ones most affected by the decline. According to Ricketts, "These are the crops most likely to run into pollination trouble, whether that's increased costs for managed pollinators, or even destabilized yields."

Too little, too late?

The bee population maps should help in focusing attention on regions with the biggest declines, but is there time to prevent the total collapse of wild bee colonies in the U.S.?

There are many factors affecting bee populations – in fact, they are seemingly under attack from all sides. It's clear that climate change, pesticides, parasites and the destruction of natural habitats all play a role, but it's not easy to determine how much each factor contributes, or how to reverse the trend.

There are other suspected contributors to what has been labeled as 'colony collapse disorder' – one of which is electromagnetic fields. There is mounting evidence that cell phone radiation may be one of the chief culprits in the decline of bee populations worldwide.

From CNN.com:

"In a study at Panjab University in Chandigarh, northern India, researchers fitted cell phones to a hive and powered them up for two fifteen-minute periods each day.

"After three months, they found the bees stopped producing honey, egg production by the queen bee halved, and the size of the hive dramatically reduced."

One thing that is clear is the fact that most, if not all, of the factors contributing to the decline of wild bee populations are directly caused by humans, which is tragically ironic, since – as many have pointed out, including Albert Einstein – if the bees completely disappear, so will we.





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