Collateral Damage

Disappearing Wild Pollinators Spell Disaster




The perilous decline of domestic honeybees due to the widespread occurrence of colony collapse disorder continues to make news, but wild bees and other insects are often overlooked, even though they are twice as effective in producing seeds and fruit on crops, according to a study of 41 crops in 600 fields worldwide by Argentina’s research network, CONICET. For the first time, scientists have a handle on the huge contribution of wild insects, showing that honeybees cannot replace the wild insects lost as their habitat is increasingly destroyed.

Study leader Lucas Garibaldi, of Argentina’s National University, in Río Negro, says that relying on honeybees is a highly risky strategy, because disease can sweep through a single species and it may not adapt to environmental changes as well as wild pollinators. Also, trucking in managed honeybee hives does not replace native pollinators, which visit more plants, resulting in more effective cross-pollination; honeybees tend to carry pollen from one flower to another on the same plant.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Migrating Trees

Three-quarters of American tree species have shifted to the West since 1980 due to dryer conditions in the East and changing rainfall patterns.

Plutonium Problem

To safely dispose of 56 million gallons of nuclear waste dating back to the Second World War, the Department of Energy might replace a glass-log encasement plan with a cement option.

Bat Banter

Computer algorithms helped Israeli researchers decode the language of Egyptian fruit bats and discover that bats exchange information about specific problems.

Tuna Turnaround

Levels of toxic mercury in Atlantic Bluefin tuna declined 19 percent between 2004 and 2012, a drop that scientists attribute to a shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy.

Buzzing RoboBees

Harvard researchers have invented tiny robotic bees that may be able to eventually pollinate the crops that are under threat because of vanishing bee colonies.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags