The Buzz About Bees
Since 2006, more than three million honeybees in the U.S. and billions of honeybees worldwide have mysteriously died. The collapse in the honeybee population is significant because, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, about one in three mouthfuls of food we eat directly or indirectly benefits from honeybee pollination. The USDA states that this die-off threatens nearly 100 commercial crops—or $15 billion worth of crops—that require honeybee pollination. Among them are many of the fruits and vegetables we love: apples, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, blueberries and carrots. Cotton, coffee, soybeans, almonds, and alfalfa, which is used to feed cows, are also dependent on honeybee pollination to increase yields. In 2008, U.S. farmers told a U.S. House Agriculture subcommittee that the honeybee crisis could result in up to a ten-fold increase in food prices. This decline, which has been termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), does not have a known cause. Pesticides, habitat loss, parasites and loss of biodiversity are the suspected culprits. While researchers investigate these causes, a growing network of people is taking action to help the bees.