World of Knowledge (Australia) - - History -

Grapes, av­o­ca­dos, cu­cum­bers: if bees were ex­tinct, the list of fruit and veg­eta­bles we could no longer eat would be lengthy. In the worst case sce­nario, it would even in­clude dairy prod­ucts be­cause bees (in­clud­ing hon­ey­bees, wild bees and bum­ble­bees) pol­li­nate many of the crops used to feed cows. If they were to sud­denly van­ish, our plates would be­come a lot emp­tier as bees pol­li­nate ap­prox­i­mately 70% of food crops. And this sce­nario isn’t as un­likely as it sounds: alarm­ingly, the Bri­tish bee pop­u­la­tion, for ex­am­ple. has de­clined by a third since 2007 and the num­ber of hives has plum­meted by 73% over the past cen­tury. Mites and viruses are partly to blame for this, but pes­ti­cides are also thought to have wiped out bee colonies. That said, not all fruits and veg­eta­bles would dis­ap­pear if bees weren’t around: some would be un­af­fected be­cause they’re pol­li­nated by the wind or other in­sects. To­day, re­searchers and farm­ers are al­ready fran­ti­cally search­ing for new ways to pol­li­nate plants.

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