U.S. crop yields threatened by decline in bee population
A new study published by Rutgers University indicates that crop yields for cherries, apples and blueberries across the U.S. could be reduced from lack of pollinators.
Honeybees and wild bees are responsible for pollinating a majority of the world's crops and the new study suggests that stocking habitats for native bees would "boost pollination levels and could increase crop production".
Lead researcher and author Rachael Winfree at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers said that declines in the bee population raise serious concerns about food security worldwide.
"We found that many crops are pollination-limited, meaning crop production would be higher if crop flowers received more pollination. We also found that honey bees and wild bees provided similar amounts of pollination overall," she explained.
Crops dependent on bees totals nearly US$50bn annually and research shows that species like the European honeybee are in decline.
In the U.S. and British Columbia, 131 farms were studied to determine insect pollination's impact on yields for highbush blueberries, sweet cherries, tart cherries, almond, watermelon and pumpkin.
Of those fruit, a majority demonstrated that being limited in pollination also coincides with lower yields.
"Our findings show that pollinator declines could translate directly into decreased yields for most of the crops studied," said the study.