The mystery of the worrisome decline in the numbers of bees needed to pollinate plants may have been solved: It all comes down to modern farming methods. Modern farmers, especially in the US where the problem is worst, tend to plant a single crop, such as corn. But in order to develop a strong immune system that can ward off the mites that tend to infect a hive, bees need to eat pollen from a VARIETY of plants.
It's been discovered that bees make glucose oxidase (GOX) to preserve honey and food for larvae against infestation by microbes. In BBC News, Richard Black quotes researcher Cedric Alaux as saying, "We found that bees fed with a mix of five different pollens had higher levels of glucose oxidase compared to bees fed with pollen from one single type of flower, even if that single flower had a higher protein content." The French government is planning to grow nectar-bearing flowers by roadsides, next to farms, in an attempt to stem the bee decline.
Black quotes David Aston, of the British Beekeepers Assoc. as saying, "You've now got large areas of monoculture; and that's been a fairly major change in what pollinating insects can forage for."
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