Science and space
May 3, 2007
• USDA official: "This is the biggest general threat to our food supply"
• One-quarter of U.S. colonies vanish, about five times the normal winter loss
• Honeybees pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops in U.S.
• Not all scientists foresee a food crisis, noting prior large-scale bee die-offs
BELTSVILLE, Maryland (AP) -- Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of America's honeybees could have a devastating effect on the country's dinner plate, perhaps even reducing its people to a glorified bread-and-water diet.
Honeybees do not just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops the country has.
Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.
In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.