A national study suggests that intensive farming is perhaps the greatest danger to wild bee survival.
Led by University of Vermont scientist Dr. Insu Koh, the research team is the first to compare the species’ population over time with the location of pollinator-dependent crops. The researchers found that between 2008 and 2013, the abundance of wild bees dropped in almost a quarter of the contiguous United States.
The study suggests that conversion of grassland and pasture to row crops is the driving force behind the disappearance of bees–not pesticides, climate change, or disease.
The researchers assembled a map to illustrate the areas most in danger, highlighting where the balance between crops in need of bees and the available bee population is unbalanced. A web app also depicts the data.