Quartz recently covered a new study conducted by the University of Maryland and the Department of Agriculture, which identified a combination of pesticides and fungicides that is causing the collapse of bee populations. Here’s an excerpt:
“Scientists had struggled to find the trigger for so-called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that has wiped out an estimated 10 million beehives, worth $2 billion, over the past six years. Suspects have included pesticides, disease-bearing parasites and poor nutrition. But in a first-of-its-kind study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture have identified a witch’s brew of pesticides and fungicides contaminating pollen that bees collect to feed their hives. The findings break new ground on why large numbers of bees are dying though they do not identify the specific cause of CCD, where an entire beehive dies at once.”
This is really scary stuff, as we kind of need bees to live:
“The mysterious mass die-off of honey bees that pollinate $30 billion worth of crops in the US has so decimated America’s apis mellifera population that one bad winter could leave fields fallow.”
The bad news is that it’s not one thing, it’s many things, which makes the problem more difficult to solve. If we eliminate pesticides and fungicides, we may see a big drop in food production. Then again, if the bee population collapses, we might see a disaster.