Wild Bee Population in the United States on the Decline

February 23, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. crucial / kru ʃəl / (adj.) – critical or very important
Example: The materials are crucial in the experiment.

2. make up / meyk ʌp / (phrasal verb) – to compose or form
Example: Five scientists make up the department’s research team.

3. integral / ‘ɪn tɪ grəl / (adj.) – necessary to the completion of a whole
Example: Her work is integral to the team’s project.

4. nutritious / nuˈtrɪʃ əs / (adj.) – providing nourishment
Example: You should always eat nutritious food like fruits and vegetables.

5. recover / rɪˈkʌv ər / (v.) – to bring back to a normal state
Example: The whale population recovered after illegal hunting was banned.  


Read the text below.
The wild bee population in the United States is on the decline according to a research team led by Dr. Insu Koh of the University of Vermont's Gund Institute for Ecological Economics.

According to the study, the population of the wild bee has decreased in 23 percent of the country, or 139 counties in crucial agricultural areas such as California, the Pacific Northwest, the upper Midwest and Great Plains, west Texas, and the southern Mississippi River Valley. These areas make up 39 percent of the US cropland and are integral to the nation's production of crops such as apples, blueberries, peaches, pears, plums, pumpkins, and watermelons.

Since bees are pollinators, which assist plants in reproduction by transferring pollen from one flower to another, the decline in their population could result in a loss in nutritious crops—specifically almonds, apples, blueberries, and watermelons. In addition, the decline could force farmers to be more dependent on managed honey bees, which are more expensive and may thus drive food prices up. The decline could also affect natural ecosystems since 70 percent of flowering plants are dependent on pollinators, especially bees. In fact, bees remain as the dominant pollinators in temperate zone countries like the United States.

The study pointed out several causes for the decline in wild bee population, including diseases among the bees themselves, use of pesticides, climate change, and conversion of wild bee habitat into cropland. To help bee populations recover, restoration programs that introduce pollinator habitats near farmlands should be implemented.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Should people take action when the population of a species is on the decline? Why or why not?
·         How else can humans help in increasing bee populations?

Discussion B
·         What are some animals in your country whose populations are on the decline because of human activity?
·         What human activities have a negative effect on animals?

February 23, 2016