Honeybees pollinate more than 90 percent of flowering crops in North America including squash, melons, apples, nuts, asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers and more. In fact, they’re responsible for about a third of all food and drink we consume. But worker bees are dying off in record numbers, leaving us with the possibility of a food crisis.
Part of the problem could be the honeybee’s genome, which has half as many toxin and disease fighting genes as a fruit fly, according to research from the University of Illinois. But a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Agriculture shows a host of causes for the rapid decline in our bee population.
Here are a few factors:
- The Varroa mite, which is a major factor in colony collapse disorder, is becoming resistant to pesticides used by beekeepers.
- Bees are coming under attack of new viruses, some of which are contributing to colony collapse.
- Honeybees need more available food sources, and a greater diversity of nutrition.
There’s much more research to be done, but by working with beekeepers, farmers, scientists and the general public, we may soon be able to end colony collapse disorder and save not only our bees, but our crops as well.