Quantcast
Connect with us

US sees massive drop in bumblebees: study

Published

on

WASHINGTON — Weakened by inbreeding and disease, bumble bees have died off at an astonishing rate over the past 20 years, with some US populations diving more than 90 percent, according to a new study.

The findings are of concern because bees play a crucial role in pollinating crops such as tomatoes, peppers and berries, said the findings of a three-year study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

ADVERTISEMENT

Similar declines have also been seen in Europe and Asia, said Sydney Cameron, of the Department of Entomology and Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois, the main author of the study.

“The decline of bumble bees in the US is associated with two things we were able to study: the pathogen Nosema bombi and a decline in genetic diversity. But we are not saying Nosema is the cause. We don’t know,” said Cameron.

“It’s just an association. There may be other causes.”

He added that the decline is “huge and recent,” having taken place in the last two decades.

Nosema bombi is a bee pathogen that has also afflicted European bumble bees.

ADVERTISEMENT

Researchers examined eight species of North American bumble bees and found that the “relative abundance of four species has dropped by more than 90 percent, suggesting die-offs further supported by shrinking geographic ranges,” said the study.

“Compared with species of relatively stable population sizes, the dwindling bee species had low genetic diversity, potentially rendering them prone to pathogens and environmental pressures.”

Their cousins, the honey bees, have also experienced catastrophic die-offs since 2006 in a phenomenon known as “colony collapse disorder,” though the causes have yet to be fully determined.

ADVERTISEMENT

Bumble bees also make honey, but it is used to feed the colony, not farmed for human consumption.

They are however raised in Europe for pollinating greenhouse vegetables in a multi-billion-dollar industry that has more recently taken off in Japan and Israel and is being developed in Mexico and China, Cameron said.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We need to start to develop other bees for pollination beside honey bees, because they are suffering enormously,” he added.

There are around 250 species of bumble bee, including 50 in the United States alone.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Seoul mayor found dead after ‘#MeToo allegations’

Published

on

Seoul's outspoken mayor Park Won-soon, long seen as a potential South Korean presidential candidate, was found dead, police said Friday. He was 64.

A former Seoul City employee filed a police complaint -- allegedly involving sexual harassment -- against him on Wednesday.

Park's body was found on a mountain in northern Seoul, police said, hours after hundreds of officers started searching for him.

If Park does prove to have killed himself he would be the highest-profile South Korean politician to do so since former president Roh Moo-hyun, who jumped off a cliff in 2009 after being questioned over corruption allegations involving family members.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Legal experts weigh in on Supreme Court rulings on Trump’s financial records

Published

on

The U.S. Supreme Court, on July 9, handed down two anxiously awaited decisions dealing with access to President Donald Trump’s financial records — one in Trump v. Vancethe other in Trump v. Mazars.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Megachurch denies throwing ‘COVID-19 parties’ after death of Florida teen

Published

on

A Florida megachurch at the center of a major controversy surrounding the death of a local teenager is denying claims that it was throwing "COVID-19 parties."

The Christian Post reports that the First Assembly of God, a church based in Fort Myers, Florida, is denying claims that it held mass gatherings for teenage parishioners in which they were not required to wear face masks or socially distance.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image