“For seven years, we have been losing honeybee populations at an alarming rate, but until 2012, no one could say why. That’s when we published a paper tracing this loss to a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids. As a result, the European Union took action to ban agricultural use of those pesticides for a two-year period, beginning on December 1, 2013, in hopes of sparking the resurgence of honeybee populations.
“Why is this so important? The future of global agriculture—and our food supply—hinges on our ability to address such issues. Approximately one-third of the foods we commonly consume—apples, pears, blueberries, strawberries and so on—requires pollination, and honeybees happen to be the most effective pollinator for agricultural production. Not to mention other crops such as almonds and, of course, honey and other products we get more directly from honeybees.
“We were extraordinarily fortunate to have Wells Fargo Foundation fund our initial research, which explored why pesticides don’t kill honeybees right away, but rather, over the winter season, the colony disappears. The gifts we receive from corporations and foundations are timely and critical to our work—especially in light of the significant drop in government funding over the past decade.”