Bees survive better in cities compared to open agricultural land

Bumblebees are vital pollinators for flowers and crops.  But, bee populations have been declining world-wide due to “pesticides, disease, and habitat loss.”

A recent study sought to track and explain anecdotal evidence that more bees are being found in urban areas.

In the study, more than 100 bee colonies were planted in 38 different locations [in England] ranging “from London’s city center to surrounding villages, suburbs, and farms.”

Bee colonies “placed in agricultural fields produced fewer reproductive offspring and fewer workers, and their queens died sooner.”  These colonies broke down faster and had “fewer nutrient resources.”  In comparison, colonies in suburbs and colonies in the center of the City did much better.

Why?  The monoculture of today’s corporate agriculture generally produces fewer and less diverse “floral resources” and a greater level of pesticides than suburbs and cities.  While the city is not at all ideal for bees, bees appear to be able to successfully exploit the city environment to their advantage for survival.

While this news is somewhat positive, the greater challenge is to make modern agriculture more friendly to bees–a vital part of human food production.  “It’s really starting to become quite clear that agricultural areas are generally quite bad for wildlife.”

Read the article (JoAnna Klein, New York Times, June 27, 2018).

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