Einstein famously quoted “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live”. Although remembered for his bold claims, this statement does not come completely unfounded.
One third of the human race’s total diet is dependent on plants that have been pollinated by insects, predominately the honey bee (Apis mellifera). The annual monetary value of the honey bee through commercial pollination therefore equates to approximately $15 billion in the US and £200 million in the UK. As such, the falling number of colonies, in excess of 30% annually in recent years, is causing huge concern in the agricultural sector. Colony losses have been widely attributed to the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon in which whole hives abruptly disappear. Multiple factors have been attributed to CCD, spanning from the Varroa mite, to a lack of variation in their diet (as bees are transported for pollination purposes and forced to feed on a single crop), to pesticides and radiation. A continued depletion in the number of bees would cause both a reduction in fruit and vegetable yields and an increase in price to the consumer.
In the last few days BeesFree Inc has reported bringing an organically-engineered feeding formulation to market, which is proven to stop the deadly effects of CCD. If successful, this formulation could have a huge impact on the health of future crop yields and global food prices.