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Bee numbers in sharp decline

HoneybeeHoneybee In May 2015, beekeepers in the US reported that 42% of honeybee colonies died off in a single year. The states of Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin all saw more than 60% of their hives die since April 2014. Surprisingly, the survey, which was conducted by a partnership that included the US Department of Agriculture, showed that, for the first time, the majority of the bees died in the summer, rather than winter as they would normally do. 

Varroa mite on a honeybeeVarroa mite on a honeybee

The situation is not as catastrophic as it sounds: after a hive colony dies, beekeepers start new ones by taking bees from their surviving colonies. The numbers then go back up again. Nevertheless, entomologists (scientists who specialize in the study of insects) say that honeybees are now dying off at too high a rate for their long-term survival to be guaranteed. They believe that a combination of mites, poor nutrition and pesticides are to blame for the bee deaths. About a quarter of America's food crop, including almonds, apples and beans, depends on pollination from honeybees.

The are seven species of honeybee. They represent only a tiny fraction of the roughly 20,000 known species of bee.

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