The shortage of bees on agricultural land limits the supply of some food crops. A new study in the US suggests that declining pollinators could have serious consequences for global food security.
Wild bee species, such as bumblebees, are suffering from the loss of flowering habitats, the use of toxic pesticides and, increasingly, the climate crisis. Managed bees, meanwhile, are prone to beekeepers, but they are still plagued by disease, raising concerns that three-quarters of the world’s plants dependent on pollinators may sink due to bee shortages.
A new study seems to confirm some of these fears.
Of the seven crops studied grown in 13 U.S. states, five showed that bee shortages hampered food production, including apples, blueberries, and cherries. A coalition of scientists from the U.S., Canada, and Sweden studied 131 crop fields for bee activity and abundance.
“Cereals with more bees have grown significantly more crops,” said Rachel Michael, an ecologist and pollination expert at Rhager University who was the chief author of an article published by the Royal Society. “I was surprised I didn’t expect them to be limited to that extent.”
The researchers found that wild native bees did a surprisingly high proportion of pollination, despite working in intensively farmed areas that are almost inseparable from the vegetation that supports them. Wild bees are often more effective pollinators than bees, but studies have shown that several species are extinct. For example, the rusty bumblebee that got into the place was the first bee to It was on the U.S. endangered species list after experiencing 87 percent over the past two decades. Recession.
American agricultural areas are stimulated by wood bees, frantically replicated and moved to hives across the country to meet the growing need for plant pollination.
Almonds, one of two crops for which the study found no shortage of bees, are most commonly grown in California, where most U.S. hives are transported to mass cases of almond pollination each year.
In the U.S., tactics such as leveling wild flower meadows, spraying large amounts of insecticides, and planting monocultures are at the forefront of opposite trends that are being replicated around the world, with farming becoming more intensive to feed larger quantities to feed the world’s growing population. individual crop fields are detrimental to bee populations leading to plant pollination.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, crop production, which is dependent on insects and other pollinators, has increased by 300% over the last 50 years. Lack of pollination can make some fruits and vegetables rarer and more expensive, which can lead to malnutrition in diets. Basic foods such as rice, wheat and corn will not be affected as they are pollinated through the wind.
“Honey bee colonies are weaker than before, and wild bees are probably declining a lot,” Winfree said. “Agriculture is becoming more intensive and there are fewer bees, so pollination will be limited at some point. Even if the bees were healthy, risking so much reliance on one bee species is risky. The parasites are expected to target the same species we have in these monoculture crop fields. “
The article recommends that farmers have a better understanding of the optimal amount of pollination required to increase crop yields, as well as review the suitability of pesticides and fertilizers in the fields.
“The trends we are seeing now are driving us to food security,” Winfree said. “I am not in a crisis yet, but the trends are moving in the right direction. Our research shows that this is not a problem for 10 or 20 years from now – it is happening now. “