Study: 5 W. MI counties at risk from wild bee decline

(AP file photos)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD)— Five West Michigan counties are at highest risk of seeing the fallout from a disappearing wild bee population.

That’s based on new findings by a team of researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Vermont and five other colleges and universities.

According to the group, they were the first to map wild bees across the nation.

Kent, Ottawa, Berrien, Van Buren and Oceana counties were among the 139 counties on that map that were highlighted as trouble areas.

Their study indicated 39 percent of farmland that depends on pollinators is in trouble.

The problem is two-fold: West Michigan farmers are planting more specialty crops like blueberries, apples and squash which drives up demand for pollination. Meanwhile, the wild bee population is declining. Researchers
said the number of wild bees in the contiguous U.S. dropped 23 percent between 2008 and 2013.

The group said if the trend continues, it could cost farmers even more money and possibly hurt the nation’s crop production.

More than $3 billion of the U.S. agricultural economy depends on pollinators, the study’s lead researcher said.

Online:

PNAS wild bee study 

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