“We know that wild bees are greatly at risk and not doing well worldwide,” said Sandra Rehan, assistant professor of biological sciences. “This status assessment of wild bees shines a light on the exact species in decline, beside the well-documented bumble bees. Because these species are major players in crop pollination, it raises concerns about compromising the production of key crops and the food supply in general.”
Pollinators contribute more than $24 billion to the U.S. economy, with $15 billion coming from honeybees alone. Considering this dependency, reduced honeybee and pollinator populations pose a serious risk to domestic agriculture, ecological health, and the U.S. economy.
There have been many theories about the cause of CCD, but the researchers who are leading the effort to find out why are now focused on various factors (Source: Environmental Protection Agency - Colony Collapse Disorder):
- Increased losses due to the invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees).
- New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema.
- Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
- Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.
- Changes to the habitat where bees forage.
- Inadequate forage/poor nutrition.
- Potential immune-suppressing stress on bees caused by one or a combination of factors identified above.