Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Links on Food and Bees

Victoria farmer working to bring back buzz of native bees

Alarmed at honeybee colony losses that reached 80 to 100 per cent last spring on Vancouver Island, a Victoria farmer is abuzz over a program she says will boost native bee populations that could replace the threatened honeybee.
Working with the Victoria-based land trust, The Land Conservancy, as an agricultural program assistant, Nathalie Chambers is leading the just-launched Pollinator Enhancement Program. The provincewide plan aims to improve conditions for native bees so that farmers are not as dependent on the honeybee, the dominant pollinator, originating in the Mediterranean area and brought to B.C. in 1858.

US food prices could surpass 2008 levels, says USDA

US food prices could surpass those seen during the 2008 food price crisis this year, as higher commodity and energy prices cause food makers to pass on costs, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA predicted late last year that food prices would rise during 2011, and in recent weeks several major food manufacturers have said they intend to raise prices on the back of stronger commodity costs. The USDA had been saying since July that food price inflation – after dropping to its lowest rate in 18 years – would accelerate during 2011, by 2 to 3 percent. But it is only in the last week that the agency revised its forecast, saying that it predicts the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to rise by 3 to 4 percent during the year.

Bumblebees' disappearance 'alarming' 

Four species see 96-per-cent decline

- Four previously abundant species of bumblebee are close to disappearing in the United States, researchers reported yesterday in a study confirming that the agriculturally important bees are being affected worldwide.
They found a 96-per-cent decline in the numbers of the four species and said their range had shrunk by as much as 87 per cent. As with honeybees, a pathogen is involved, but the researchers also found evidence of inbreeding caused by habitat loss.
"We provide incontrovertible evidence that multiple Bombus species have experienced sharp population declines at the national level," researchers reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, calling the findings "alarming."
"These are one of the most important pollinators of native plants," said Sydney Cameron of the University of Illinois, who led the study.

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