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Scientists alarmed by decline in bees

March 9, 2011 at 8:14 AM   |   Comments

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BELTSVILLE, Md., March 9 (UPI) -- A "complex" array of factors is causing bee populations to decline quickly, which the United Nations says has dramatic implications on food and biodiversity.

At least half of the world's leading food crops rely on bee pollination for reproduction. Scientist list viral and fungal infections, as well as pesticides, for the decimation of bee hives across the world.

"It's a complex interaction of several different factors that are causing bees to die, resulting in quick colony decline," said Jeff Pettis, entomologist and chief researcher at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Bee Research Lab in Beltsville, Md., to London's Daily Mail.

More than 30 percent of the beehives in the United States and 20 percent of the hives in Europe are affected by disease.

A pending report on bee populations by the U.N. Environment Program concludes that several thousand plant species could be wiped out unless bee conservation efforts are enhanced.

"The decline of bee populations has serious consequences for food security," the U.N. agency said in a statement. "Pollination is critical for flower and seed production and vital to the health of ecosystems."

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