As pollinating insects like bumblebees and honeybees are dying of mysterious colony collapse disorders, federal scientists are scrambling to save this beneficial insect. By building hedgerows and windbreaks filled with bee-friendly trees, shrubs, and grasses, federal scientists hope they can grow the bee population in California and help farmers grow more prolific fruit trees and vegetable plants. Colony collapse disorder has devastated much of the world, reducing yields in California and forcing Indian and Chinese farmers to hand-polinate their crops. Trillions of bees have already been lost to colony collapse disorder, which is thought to revolve around food scarcity, environmental stress, and pesticide use.
The program, which will be carried out by private groups like the Xerces Society, will not only build habitats for the bees, but also track how natural pollination improves due to their efforts. California's farmers hope that these measures will help save their way of life to the massive decreases seen in Asia and Europe. The United Kingdom is expected to be devoid of bees by 2018, which would greatly affect the price of apples, pears, and other crops that do not bear fruit without pollination.
According to Newsweek, 35% of calories consumed by humans worldwide are from crops that require pollination to produce. Couple this with a 55% colony loss rate over the last two years in the United States alone, and the figures start painting a terrifying picture.
California has a unique problem, as the Central Valley has an abundance of tree fruit and nut plantations that require as many as 100,000 bees per acre. The American Beekeeping Federation believes that there may be as few as one million domesticated bees currently living in the United States. The new grant is looking to jump-start bee research that stalled after failed 2007 legislation, and prevent a world-wide food crisis like humankind has never seen.