Wild Bees Pollinate Over $1.5 Billion Worth of Crops in North America
Pollination is one of the most important aspects of the evolutionary cycle of all the plants. While wind and water play their roles in transferring pollen from one place to another, wild insects, especially bees, also help to pollinate many flowers and crops across the world.
What is even more fascinating that not just honeybees pollinate our crops, but many native species of bees also put up with this task. Apparently, there are around 4,000 species of native bee in North America alone. According to new research, these wild insects pollinate over $1.5 billion worth of crops each year, but a decline in these pollinators can drastically threaten agricultural productivity.
Published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, the study found that five out of seven cropped showed evidence that a scarcity of bees was reducing crop production. Wild bees and honeybees provided comparable amounts of pollination for most crops. However, the pollinator declines are directly reflecting in the decreased yield or production.
The study was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture. With changes in climate and rising global temperatures, the abrupt drops in insect populations across the world have prompted fear of calamitous results for crop pollination and natural food grains.
Researchers from several US and Canadian universities analyzed the production of major commercial farms to discover that even in areas with intense agriculture where honeybees are found in abundance, wild bees play a comparable role in producing food.
The study says,
This result is in contrast with our expectation that sampling in agriculturally intensive areas would reveal greatly reduced wild bee contributions to crop pollination. Our data suggest that instead, wild bees are able to persist in many of these managed landscapes and make a significant, although variable, contribution to crop pollination.
This study estimated the nationwide annual production value of wild pollinators to the seven crops at over $1.5 billion; whereas it is expected that the value of wild bee pollination of all pollinator-dependent crops would be much higher.
The wild bees are also far more endangered, despite all the awareness campaigns and environmental conscious drives. In the last century, half of all native species in the US Midwest have disappeared.
Moreover, without wild pollination, the best yields cannot be achieved. To avoid such a situation, it is necessary to implement targeted conservation efforts, not only toward honeybees but for wild bees as well.