Insect populations are in terminal decline in the US and Europe. That was the conclusion of a paper published last week by Australian academics. The reasons are numerous, including habitat loss, disease and pesticides. Among the species, bees count as most important to humans. While data from the US suggests a decline in their numbers has stabilised, falling honey yields paint a different picture. The number of US bee colonies steadily fell from more than 5-million in the 1950s to 2.3-million in 2008. Since then, their numbers have recovered, with 2.7-million reported in 2017. Most are owned by commercial businesses. However, a honey yield in 2017 of 25kg per colony was the lowest ever recorded. Disease is a particular threat for bees. An annual migration of about 50% of colonies to pollinate California’s almond crop helps spread diseases such as the deadly varroa mite. This means fewer bees and less honey, despite high rates of replacement from keepers. Pesticide use is another. Th...

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