Fascinating op-ed in today's New York Times about the future of domestic bees and other pollinators in our agricultural landscapes. The good news seems to be that worldwide, the population of domesticated honeybees is growing. But the bad news is that it's not growing fast enough, plus domesticated bees are primarily honey producers, not crop pollinators. Unsustainable farming practices, further, are destroying the habitats of wild bees and others who are full-time pollinators Worrisome for our apples and other yummy (and expensive) crops. An excerpt:
Overall, about one-third of our worldwide agricultural production depends to some extent on bee pollination, but less than 10 percent of the 100 most productive crop species depend entirely on it. If pollinators were to vanish, it would reduce total food production by only about 6 percent.
This wouldn’t mean the end of human existence, but if we want to continue eating foods like apples and avocados, we need to understand that bees and other pollinators can’t keep up with the current growth in production of these foods.
The reason is that fruit and seed crops that are most dependent on pollinators yield relatively little food per acre, and therefore take up an inordinate, and increasing, amount of land. The fraction of agriculture dependent on pollination has increased by 300 percent in half a century.
The paradox is that our demand for these foods endangers the wild bees that help make their cultivation possible. (Click here to read the whole article.)
Are you involved with the honeybee issue in any way? Do you have a hive at home or support pollinators in some other way? Looking forward to your thoughts!
(image via: http://library.thinkquest.org/)
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