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Wild Bees Face Extinction

Posted By G Monkie On September 22, 2006 @ 2:56 pm In G Living | No Comments

(via nationalgeographic)
Due to Mite infestation of honeybees in the wild, and in beekeeper’s fields – nearly all wild honeybees are facing extinction. Except for honeybee farms and the relentless search for a control of these prolific mites, honeybees are doomed to be a protected species, raised and tended to by man. I doubt that we could keep them going another 200 million years.

“Claire Kremen, a conservation biologist at Princeton University in New Jersey, thinks native wild bees can take some of the sting from the honeybee decline. These wild bees buzzed North America for thousands of years before the domesticated European variety arrived.

“We need to ensure we can keep on having [honeybees] around, but at the same time we can reduce the risk of relying on honeybees for crop pollination by protecting wild bees and ensuring their pollination services can be maximized,” she said.

Scott Hoffman Black is executive director of the Xerces Society, a Portland, Oregon-based invertebrate-conservation organization. He says North American farmers rely so heavily on domesticated honeybees today that they often forget that pollinated food crops existed before the domesticated honeybee was introduced.

“Prior to the advent of large-scale monoculture agriculture [the practice of growing only one kind of plant in a given plot] in the fifties and the use of lots of chemical pesticides, native bees and feral honeybees pollinated everything. It wasn’t an issue. People didn’t cart bees all over the country,” he said.

Kremen and Black’s organization are collaborating to spread the word about the role wild bees play in crop pollination.

While they acknowledge that farmers cannot and will not revert to pre-1950s practices for the sake of wild bees, they advocate steps to conserve and use native wild bee populations as an insurance policy for when a honeybee shortage would otherwise leave fields sapped of their full potential.

Wild Bee Needs

Scientists estimate there are about 4,000 different species of wild bees that are native to North America. They nest in thick grass, soil, and wood; are rarely kept in hives; and generally do not make surplus honey or form large colonies.

While the mites that have proven so devastating to domesticated honeybee population”

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