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Where the wild bees aren't: New map shows serious shortages

Dec 28, 2015

A new study shows 139 agricultural counties that face a worrying mismatch between declining wild bee populations, and rising crop demand
Credit The University of Vermont

Wild bee shortages are hitting West Michigan farmers hard, according to a new national study.

Researchers at the University of Vermont, Michigan State University and other institutions say they've put together the first national map of where wild bee shortages may be toughest for farmers. 

Some of the "red zones" are in California, North Dakota, and Western Michigan.

MSU Professor Rufus Isaacs is one of the authors of the study, which indicates a 23% drop in wild bees populations in recent years.

But even though more farmers are having to rent domestic honey bees to pollinate their crops, Isaacs says so far, that's not leading to higher food prices.

"But that is potential if these trends continue, that prices may have to go up,” he says.

Farmers that grow specialty crops, like apples and pumpkins, often rely on bees the most.