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The Mystery of the Vanishing Bees

To find the cause of the dramatic and possibly devastating decline of bees across the country , scientists are gathering and analyzing data and testing many possible theories ranging from cell phone interference (less likely) to problems related to corn-syrup-based dietary supplements fed to bees.

“There are so many of our crops that require pollinators,” said Representative Dennis Cardoza, a California Democrat whose district includes that state’s central agricultural valley, and who presided last month at a Congressional hearing on the bee issue. “We need an urgent call to arms to try to ascertain what is really going on here with the bees, and bring as much science as we possibly can to bear on the problem.”

So far, colony collapse disorder has been found in 27 states, according to Bee Alert Technology Inc., a company monitoring the problem. A recent survey of 13 states by the Apiary Inspectors of America showed that 26 percent of beekeepers had lost half of their bee colonies between September and March.
Honeybees are arguably the insects that are most important to the human food chain. They are the principal pollinators of hundreds of fruits, vegetables, flowers and nuts. The number of bee colonies has been declining since the 1940s, even as the crops that rely on them, such as California almonds, have grown.

Given the key role bees play in maintaining our environment, this is big news. Read the latest in this morning’s New York Times.

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