Number of wild bees drops where they’re needed most | Science News

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Number of wild bees drops where they’re needed most

Steepest pollinator declines seen in U.S. agricultural areas

3:00pm, December 21, 2015

THE LATEST BUZZ   Wild bees like this common bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) help pollinate food crops across the United States. But a new computer model shows that wild bee populations are declining in many agricultural areas.

Wild bee populations in parts of the United States are declining, largely due to habitat loss in areas with intense farming.

Many studies have focused on the pollination and population patterns of domesticated honeybees. But like honeybees, wild bees are important pollinators of food crops. Dropping populations of wild bees in agricultural areas could affect crop pollination and result in higher costs for farmers, researchers report December 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Ecologist Taylor Ricketts of the University of Vermont in Burlington and colleagues used land-use databases and input from bee experts to create a map of where wild bees were more and less abundant in the United States from 2008 to 2013. The scientists found that wild bee populations declined in 23 percent of the contiguous United States. Areas with the lowest relative wild bee abundance were those

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