Bees are deserting their hives, according to a briefing from Sheila Moorcroft, Research Director at futures portal Shaping Tomorrow. Since bees account for 80% of plant pollination, their decline could represent a significant threat to the food supply chain. It’s hard to link to the original, so an abridged version of her Trend Alert is posted below.

ST Trend Alert: Bee Concerned

Bees are disappearing, deserting their hives in what is being called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). While some experts dispute the likely long term nature of the problem, one official from the Department of Agriculture in Florida asked, ‘ Are honey bees the canary of the coalmine? ‘ If the answer is yes, we may be facing a fundamental threat to our food supply chain.

The problem has been building for a while. By 2006, bee loss on the west coast of America was estimated at 60% and on the east coast at nearly 70%. A similar picture is emerging in Europe. And that is on top of a 50% decline in overall numbers over the last 50 years .

Why is this important?

Bees do not just make honey. They account for about 80% of all insect crop pollination. [With fewer bees] at best, prices would sky rocket; at worst, many fresh foods would simply disappear, and with them the livelihoods of hundreds of rural communities.

The potential cause of CCD is hotly debated. Whatever the cause, if we do not heed the canary and change our ways if need be, then we may be facing not only a much less varied diet, but changed landscapes and rural poverty on an enormous scale.
Sheila Moorcroft , Research Director, Shaping Tomorrow