10 Mar 2011:
Decline of Honeybee Populations
Now a Global Phenomenon, Report Says
The mysterious decline of honeybee populations observed in the U.S. and Europe is now a global phenomenon
, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Scientists say significant die-offs are now occurring in managed bee colonies in China and Japan, and
there are indications of similar population collapses in Egypt. While honeybee numbers have been declining for decades, the rate has accelerated in recent years, with so-called “colony collapse disorder” destroying 35 percent of the U.S. honeybee population between 2006 and 2009. Several causes have been cited, including a decline in flowering plants, increased use of insecticides
, honeybee-killing mites
, and air pollution. The report warns that a honeybee decline poses a significant threat to humankind since bees play such an important role as crop pollinators worldwide. “Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people,” the authors write. The report suggests that incentives be offered to farmers and landowners to restore habitat conducive to honeybees, including adding critical flowering plants near crop fields and more careful management of insecticide use.
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.