Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Bees and Flowers Disappearing Together"

Article at mongaby.com

The diversity of bees and of the flowers they pollinate, has declined significantly in Britain and the Netherlands over the last 25 years...

To test for more general declines, an international team of researchers from three UK universities (Leeds, Reading and York) and from the Netherlands and Germany compiled biodiversity records for 100s of sites, and found that bee diversity fell in almost 80% of them. Many bee species are declining or have become extinct in the UK...

In Britain, where bee diversity has fallen and hoverflies have at best held steady, there have been declines in 70% of the wildflowers that require insects for pollination. However, wind-pollinated or self-pollinating plants have held constant or increased.

The research may not yet prove a global decline in pollination, but in two countries at least there is strong evidence that both wild pollinators and the wildflowers that they visit are in serious trouble.

More - International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators

Also - The EU-funded ALARM-project on biodiversity

Article on Pollinator Decline at Wikipedia.

The US has had a problem with a lack of honeybees due to varroa mites. (But there are other reasons as well such as pesticide misuse and loss of habitat and forage).

During the winter of 1995-96, beekeepers reported die-offs ranging from 40 percent in Delaware and 53 percent in Pennsylvania to 80 percent in Maine, Camazine said. Both tracheal mites and varroa mites feed on bee blood, he explained. Tracheal mites infect the breathing tubes of bees, while varroa mites- resembling light brown poppyseeds- camp on their victims' backs, often bringing diseases with them.

In the wild, "only 10 percent of all feral honeybee colonies remain within the northeastern United States," said Caron, who works in UD's 50-year-old apiary or bee farm, "so much biodiversity has been lost."

And then there is the decline of songbirds....

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