advertisement
01 March 2013

World agriculture suffers from loss of wild bees

Falling numbers of wild bees and other pollinating insects are hurting global agriculture, a study found.

0

Falling numbers of wild bees and other pollinating insects are hurting global agriculture, a study released on Thursday found.

Managed populations of pollinators are less effective at fertilising plants than wild ones, the researchers said, so the dearth of pollinating insects cannot be solved by simply introducing others.

"Adding more honey bees often does not fix this problem, but... increased service by wild insects would help," said Lawrence Harder, a scientist with the University of Calgary in Canada, which led the study.

Pollinating insects usually live in natural or semi-natural habitats, such as the edges of forests, hedgerows or grasslands.

These habitats are gradually being lost as the land is cultivated for agriculture, but, as a result, the abundance and diversity of wild pollinators crucial for the crops' success is declining.

How the study was done

The researchers analysed 41 crop systems around the world, including fruits, seeds, nuts, and coffee to examine the impact of wild pollinators on crop pollination.

"Paradoxically, most common approaches to increase agricultural efficiency, such as cultivation of all available land and the use of pesticides, reduce the abundance and variety of wild insects that could increase production of these crops," says Harder.

He said tomatoes, coffee and watermelon are among the key crops which are likely to suffer from the declining population of wild pollinators.

Most flowering crops need to receive pollen

Most flowering crops need to receive pollen before making seeds and fruits, a process that is enhanced by insects - like bees, but also flies, butterflies and beetles - that visit flowers.

The research, which was published in the journal Science, was carried out by an international team of some 50 researchers, who collected data from 600 fields in 20 countries.

The study called for new efforts to conserve and restore the natural habitats of honey bees and wild insects.

 
NEXT ON HEALTH24X
advertisement

Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.