It’s official. A lack of honeybees looks like leading to higher prices for food in the near future as farmers start to reduce the amount of vegetables they grow.
A North Caroliner farmer told Congress in June that he had had to cut his cucumber acreage in half because there were not enough bees available to pollinate them. “The simple fact is, no honeybees, no cucumbers,” Robert Edwards told the US House Agriculture Subcommittee. “Bees are as important to our crops as the water and sunshine,” he added.
The type of cucumber that Mr Edwards grows are difficult to pollinate, he explained. It is a very sticky plant that requires a high number of bees due to the increased effort that is needed on the part of the bee.
He warned that Congress needed to take the problem of disappearing and dying bees very seriously. “It is a real and growing problem that needs to be studied, addressed and corrected.”
Congress also heard that the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service now has documented evidence of the stress effects of long distance transport of bee colonies for pollination. ARS administrator, Edward Knilping, said this would help to establish critically-needed management guidelines for beekeepers.
He noted that the new Farm Bill authorises up to $20m per year for the fiscal years 2008 to 2012 for honeybee and pollinator research.