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    # 663: Honey Bee Crisis extends from US to Britain and Netherlands

    Science News Article
    Honey Bee Crisis extends from US to Britain and Netherlands
    © Sally Morton

    Sep 28, 2006

    Science News: A study by Jacobus Biesmeijer and William Kunin (Leeds University), showing declines in pollinators and insect-pollinated plants in Britain and Netherlands.

    In July of 2006, an article appeared in La Monde, entitled, “The Number and Variety of Pollinating Insects in Europe Are Diminishing Significantly.” It was written by Christiane Galus. Rating hardly a blip on the radar of the international mainstream news, this article passed through the maze of media sources without notice by most of the world”s inhabitants. Since I was following the Honey Bee Crisis in the US as well, I paid attention.

    Here is an excerpt:

    “A study conducted by Jacobus Biesmeijer and William Kunin (Leeds University, United Kingdom) and a team of British, German, and Dutch researchers and published in the July 21 issue of Science confirms that the threat is serious. By studying different areas of Great Britain and the Netherlands, scientists observed that wild bees have paid the heaviest toll, with a 52% reduction in their diversity with respect to their situation in 1980 in Great Britain and a 67% reduction in the Netherlands””

    Now, those are two disturbing sentences, and it prompted me to go search current science news and read the scientific study cited. In conducting the investigatory scientific study, the team of scientists considered more than one million data points. Here is an excerpt from the abstract:

    “”we found evidence of declines (pre-versus-post-1980) in local bee diversity in both countries” pollinator declines were most frequent in habitat and flower specialists, in univoltine species, and/or in nonmigrants. In conjunction with this evidence, outcrossing plant species that are reliant on the declining pollinators have themselves declined relative to other plant species. Taken together, these findings strongly suggest a causal connection””

    See “Parallel Declines in Pollinators and Insect-Pollinated Plants in Britain and the Netherlands” (Science, 21 July 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5785, pp. 351 “” 354).

    You may listen to the Science Podcast, “Pollination in Trouble,” an Interview with Dr. William “Bill” Kunin, University of Leeds, a co-author of the study.

    A transcript excerpt from the interview:

    “”there were not only fewer species, there were different species, and that”s part of what raised concern”they tended to be losing habitat specialists, diet specialists, all the sort of specialist bees and hover flies, and the generalists were increasing. And then”we started looking at plants”we were surprised to see a pretty strong pattern of decline in the vast majority of the insect-pollinated plants”while the wind-pollinated plants and the self-pollinated plants were either stable or increasing””

    When asked, “How worried should we be about this?” Dr. Kunin said it did not imply a global pollinator crisis, however:

    “”It”s the first time anyone”s looked for national-scale declines in pollinators and in both the countries we looked for it, it was there”I”d be surprised if there aren”t some similar patterns elsewhere, but again, people have to go look for them.”

    One can only hope that similar studies will immediately commence in the US, Canada, and other countries.

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