What’s happening to the bees?

Rick Patrick, ECB Publishing, Inc.

In many parts of the United States, agricultural lands are facing a shortage of native bees. This, in turn is causing problems for local farmers who depend on the buzzing insects to help pollinate their crops. Although many areas of the country are being affected more than others, North Florida has yet to feel the sting of bee population shortages, but that situation could change.

According to a report from the Center for Biological Diversity, more than 700 North American species of bees are declining. “We're on the verge of losing hundreds of native bee species in the United States, if we don't save them,” said study author Kelsey Kopec.

Contributing factors to the loss of bee populations include loss of habitat, especially in urban areas, and increased use of pesticides.

The economic impact of bees on the agricultural industry easily reaches into the billions of dollars every year. Bee pollination is estimated to be worth $15 billion to US agriculture every year. Areas of the US seeing the greatest difference between the availability of bees and the need for bee pollination service include the Mississippi River Valley, California and the Upper Midwest. In South Georgia and North Florida that difference may not be as great, but cause for concern still exists.