Domestic honeybees play an important role in the pollination of crops. However, they are not able to completely replace the function of wild bees and other insects.
About pollinating insects is worth take care - researchers / AP
A few months nazadv European rolling out a documentary film directed by Swiss Markus Imhof (Markus Imhoof) «More than Honey» - «More than honey". Since then, the picture is only one of Switzerland managed to see more than 200 thousand people, making it the most successful in the country documentary of all time. Ribbon, awarded the prestigious awards, tells about the life of bees, their mysterious mass deaths in recent years around the world about the dangers of their current civilization, and how invaluable contribution they make to the provision of human food, participating in the pollination of crops . However, it is only in the film about the domestic honeybees, and meanwhile, an important role in natural ecosystems play and wild insects.
Bees provide an invaluable service
In general, taking care of the growth of productivity, farmers tend to think about choosing the best varieties of watering and Fertilizers, pesticides sometimes as a means of protecting plants from pests. Pollination usually do not pay attention. And in vain, according to the Argentinean ecologist Alejandro Lucas Garibaldi (Lucas Alejandro Garibaldi), professor at the National University of Rio Negro, published an article on this subject in the journal Science: «Flower of need pollen from the ovaries without any fruit, and no seeds fail. A carry pollen from one plant to another, primarily insects - in particular, honeybees, but not only. It plays an important role in this case is not only the mere fact of the transfer of pollen, but also its quantity and quality. By participating in the pollination, insects provide an invaluable service to humanity: increase crop yields and efficiency of agriculture, promote the growth of agricultural production ».
So, on pollinating insects it makes sense to take care of. However, until now, researchers have focused on honeybees. And only now under the guidance of Professor Garibaldi group of 46 experts examined the role of wild insects in pollination of more than 40 different crops on 600 areas located in all continents of the world except Antarctica.
Insect pollinators to help
The scientist explains: "We found that the ecosystems in which species diversity is low and the population of wild insects scarce, crop yields significantly lower. This also applies to those lands where domestic honeybees very much. That is the conclusion is clear: that the quality and quantity of the transferred pollen, honey bees, no matter how many they may be, can not replace the wild insects ».
Conversely, the more numerous and more diverse were the wild pollinating insects inhabiting some agricultural landscape, the higher was there productivity and crop yields. In addition, the number of wild pollinators perfectly correlated with the structural diversity of crops.
So says Professor Garibaldi, so widespread in some regions of the US practice, as the installation of a specially hired beekeepers hives with honeybees along endless fields involved monoculture, the entire period of its flowering, will do little to improve yields, "We need more heterogeneous landscapes, instead of monoculture. As well as crop rotation rotation. In addition, we could implement a special program of measures designed to support wild pollinators: equip such places, where they are willing to settle, create favorable conditions for their habitat, stop making pesticides in the flowering period, and so on ».
For a hundred years, more than half the species of bees have disappeared
The fact that such measures are long overdue, and indicates another publication in the same issue of the journal Science. Group of ecologists at the University of Montana in Bozeman, led by Professor Laura Bёrkl (Laura Burkle) explored in detail what kinds of wild bees are found in one of the rural areas near the town Karlinvill in Illinois and what types of plants they pollinate. The data the researchers compared the results of similar studies carried out in the same area from 1888 to 1917 entomologist Charles Robertson (Charles Robertson).
It was found that plant species diversity is pretty scantily, many forest areas turned into arable land, and of the 109 species of wild bees, recorded at the turn of 19-20 centuries, today there are less than half. Markedly reduce the level of pollination, thus hit particularly hard those types of plants which specialize extinct species of bees. In addition, the researchers found an increasing discrepancy between the period of flowering plants and the period of greatest activity of bees pollinating, due, apparently, global climate change.
"The diversity of species of bees pollinating - truly a key factor in solving the problem of food security. Therefore, we have discovered such a significant reduction of this diversity is a cause for serious concern. We have to rectify the situation, "- emphasizes Laura Bёrkl.
Of course, the ecosystem have usually large, often surprisingly large margin of safety. But we should remember that it is still not infinite.