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Eastern farms have native-bee insurance

Watermelon fans can stop biting their nails, at least around the Delaware Valley region. Even if the beleaguered honeybees disappear, native bees should be able to buzz in and take care of most of the crop by themselves, says a new study.

It's a compelling example of biodiversity as insurance, says Rachael Winfree of Princeton University.

U.S. farmers who need pollinators for their crops use European honeybees (Apis mellifera). Those bees have had their troubles lately, with parasitic mites and colony-collapse disorder, among other ills (SN: 7/28/07, p. 56). But the United States has hundreds of species of native bees that drop in on farms.

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