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We Need More Than Honey Bees to Pollinate Our Crops

A new study reported in Science magazine confirms that relying on the non-native, European honey bee alone is not enough to pollinate our farms. While honey bees are hard-working and efficient pollinators of the crops we brought with us from Europe, crops native to the Americas rely on our native bees.

The researchers examined 48 sites that grow cranberries, blueberries, and watermelon. They found that to reach even a 50 percent pollination rate for these native crops required at least 55 different species of bee. And to reach a 70 percent pollination rate required 79 different species of bee to get the job done.

Maintaining our bee diversity will require farmers to continue to adopt sustainable agricultural practices. The researchers suggest, for example, that "farmers do more to invite the [native bee species] in–by diversifying crops, reducing pesticide use, and planting flowering strips and hedgerows that provide good habitat."

You can read the article here.

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