By The Editors
An international team of 40 scientists (from 27 institutions involved in the UK’s Insect Pollinators Initiative) reports that pollinating insects, essential to the food supply, are threatened at a global level by a “cocktail” of multiple pressures that puts their survival at risk. The findings were published April 22 in the journal “Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment” (Adam J Vanbergen, and the Insect Pollinators Initiative. 2013. Threats to an ecosystem service: pressures on pollinators).
The multiple pressures within the “cocktail” combine and exacerbate the negative impacts on insect pollinators of crops and wild plants.
What are these multiple pressures? Intensification of land-use, climate change, the spread of species that are not native to the ecosystem, lack of food sources, diseases and pesticides.
Possible solutions are complex, but taking immediate action is necessary to avoid bigger problems in the future. Let’s not forget the farmers of Maoxian county in the Chinese province of Sichuan. They lost most pollinators through indiscriminate use of pesticides and, for the past few decades, these farmers have been hand-pollinating apple and pear flowers with pollination sticks made of chicken feathers and cigarette filters (see picture below).
Is hand pollination efficient? Is it sustainable? Can human bees replace honeybees? We all know the answer to these questions.