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01/04/2011 11:14 AM     print story email story  

Wake Up Call for Bumblebees News

A major study in the US confirms that bumblebees are in serious decline around the world.

Researchers have documented that four species of Bombus bees - among the most important pollinators of native plants - are on the brink of disappearing in the US. Although a pathogen is implicated in the decline, the problem is mostly due to habitat loss, which is causing bees to in-breed.

The population of the four bee species is down 96% - their habitat has shrunk 87%.

The findings, which were reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are called "alarming."

Previous studies have shown that bumblebees are disappearing in Europe and Asia; this is the first study that shows the same trend is occuring in the US.

These bees are different from honeybees, which have been widely reported to be suffering from colony collapse disorder -  linked to a range of issues inclucing parasites, fungi, stress, pesticides and viruses.

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