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Pollinators in Peril

March 6, 2013

Wild pollinators may contribute more to the world’s food supply than domesticated honeybees.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Wild help for honeybees. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Without insect pollinators, many agricultural crops would fail. Most people know that domesticated honeybees are important pollinators. But according to new research published in the journal Science, wild insects are better pollinators than honeybees, and their presence can double crop yields. Agricultural engineer Lucas Garibaldi of Argentina’s National University of Río Negro led the study. He says wild insects and honeybees work together to boost crop production.s

LUCAS GARIBALDI (Universidad Nacional de Río Negro in San Carlos de Bariloche):

It’s highly risky to depend only on one pollinator such as the honeybee.

HIRSHON:

That’s in part because honeybee populations have been decreasing in recent years, perhaps due to stress, pathogens and disease. But wild insects have also been suffering. Garibaldi says farmers should protect wild insects by rotating crops frequently, restoring natural areas within farmland, and using care when applying pesticides. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

This blueberry bee (Osmia ribifloris) belongs to a group of insects called the Megachilid bees, some of the most effective pollinators in the world. (USDA/Agricultural Research Service)