February 28, 2013 _ The tricoloured bumble bee used to flit around blueberry fields in the Maritimes pollinating flowers and helping deliver bumper berry crops.
“In the 1990s it started to really decline,” says Steven Javorek, a landscape ecologist with Agriculture Canada. He says the once-common bee with its distinct orange belt is now rarely seen, joining the growing list of wild pollinators in trouble.
While they may be lowly insects, Javorek and his colleagues have amassed evidence that their demise is not just an environmental concern but a threat to global food production.
In an international study released Thursday they say wild pollinators are critical, if often overlooked and abused, players in agriculture.
They pollinate crops more effectively than honeybees leading to twice as many flowers developing into fruit and seed, the researchers report in their study in the journal Science.
Without steps to conserve wild pollinators and protect their habitats “the ongoing loss of wild insects is destined to compromise agricultural yields worldwide,” the scientists warn. Continue reading