We may not be fond of our pollinating bug brethren, but bees are buzzing off at alarming rates, and we should be worried. A new study published by scientists at the University of Vermont maps the decline of the bee population and its potential to seriously impact agriculture-heavy regions of the United States. The study was discussed at length at the recent American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Boston.
"This study provides the first national picture of wild bees and their impacts on pollination," Taylor Ricketts, director of University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics told Phys.org. He noted that $3 billion of the United states economy depends on growing crops that have been pollinated by bees. "Wild bees are a precious natural resource we should celebrate and protect.”
If the bee population continues to decline continues, 139 counties will be at risk, severely impacting U.S. crop production and farmers' costs. Areas most at risk include California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Great Plains, west Texas, and the Mississippi River valley. The crops that most depend on bee pollination include almonds, blueberries, apples, pumpkins, watermelons, and pears.