Lewis Diuguid

Keeping honeybees alive may hinge on fungicide restrictions

Honeybees are teaching people just how delicate nature’s balance truly is.

The insects, which are an absolute must for pollinating crops, are dying in alarming numbers. Scientists now think one cause might be farmers’ use of fungicides to ward off pests and improve crop yields.

A University of Maryland study has found that the bees are more susceptible to a killer parasite when the bees also are exposed to the fungus-eradicating chemicals.

The bees as carriers take the chemical back to the colony, making it a killer dose for the hive, McClatchy Newspapers reports. Scientists are calling for federal restrictions on the use of fungicides similar to those on insecticides when pollinating insects are foraging. The decline in honeybees first surfaced in 2006.

Early reports cited possible causes as parasites, disease, genetics, poor nutrition, pesticide exposure and farming practices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated that a third of all food and beverage production is dependent on the pollinating work of honeybees,

Pollination annually contributes about $20 billion to $30 billion to the farm production. Unlike global warming, action to fix this problem needs to be taken immediately to safeguard the world’s food sources.