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Feeling the sting? Addressing land-use changes can mitigate bee declines

June 10, 2019

Pollinators are an essential component of functioning and sustainable agroecosystems. Despite their critical economic and ecological role, wild and managed bees are declining throughout the United States and across the globe. Commercial beekeepers lost nearly 40.5% of their colonies in 2015–2016 and estimated wild bee abundance declined 23% between 2008 and 2013. These losses are due to a number of factors—including parasites, pesticides, and pathogens—but one key driver is the loss of habitat and floral resources necessary for pollinator survival. Here, we trace how land-use changes, and the policies and land management practices behind them, have played a role in diminishing floral resources and provide steps that can be taken to mitigate forage and habitat loss due to land-use changes. By addressing land-use changes and their drivers, considerable progress can be made toward mitigating bee declines and achieving national goals for pollinator health.