Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's Causing the Massive Bee Die-Off?

clipped from

“To the bee, a flower is a fountain of life, and to the flower, a bee is a messenger of love,” wrote poet Kahlil Gibran. Whether or not love is involved in the exchange, the evolutionary dance between pollen-transporting honey bees and nectar-producing flowers is one of nature’s most extraordinary symbiotic relationships, a hundred million years in the making.

Yet what took eons to evolve can be undone in decades, as the growing roster of endangered species makes clear. While the words “endangered species” typically call to mind photogenic tigers, pandas, or whales, an estimated 80 percent of all known animal species on earth are insects, and their extinction often goes unremarked. A recent study notes that hundreds of thousands of insects could be lost in the next fifty years and that the loss of “keystone” insect species—those on which many other species depend—could be particularly detrimental for ecosystems and people.

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