A sudden decline in bee populations, CCD, is not the only ecological disturbance that hinders pollination of vulnerable flowering plants. Patches of monoculture farmland can [in a ‘fragmented landscape’] be another factor – paradoxically especially when these produce bee-appealing flowering plants.
In their publication in Current Biology the researchers write bees, bumblebees, or -in the case of their field study in central Chile- hoverflies should be regarded as ‘fickle foragers’: when farmland is used for pine tree plantations, the insects prefer to stay among flowers in the natural woodland. When however the local agriculture is serving a nectar-rich meal, the insects chose to stay there – and may then leave the wild, dispersed or endangered plants in the adjacent forest untouched.
A varied diet, best for everyone’s health
Bees may be a bit like humans. Since we found out about supermarkets and megastores, most of us ignore the local bakeries and greengrocers too. And just like us bees can be tempted by fast foods, the monoculture diet – and suffer the consequences: the bees leaving the forest is not just bad for local ecology, it may also be detrimental for the bees’ health.
And without swarms of healthy bees we in turn may not starve, but we’ll definitely be faced with a far bigger challenge to fill our own shopping cart of healthy foods.
© Rolf Schuttenhelm | www.bitsofscience.org