Sunday, June 29, 2008

Bee Loss is Becoming a Serious Issue

No one is still quite sure why the bee colony sudden collapse is happening in North America. Bee's are vital to American agriculture, providing pollination to fruit crops that are worth $15 billion to the American economy.

"There were enough commercial hives available to do the pollination needed," said Janet S. Kaplan of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, which is studying the disorder.

Honeybees are responsible for pollinating more than $15 billion worth of apples, peaches, blueberries, squash, nuts, seed fruit, and vine crops annually. About a third of the food Americans eat has some connection to bee pollination, according to the USDA.

In much of the country, including New England, pollination relies heavily on commercial beehives trucked in from elsewhere, often from warm-weather states where bees are cultivated throughout the year.

Last year, Colony Collapse Disorder gained national attention when beekeepers in more than two dozen states checked their hives after the winter and found that up to 90 percent of the bees had gone without a trace. It was feared that the disorder would spread to all hives.

But the disappearances have remained inconsistent, said Kaplan.

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