AUSTIN, Texas — Little bees have big jobs to do. Honey bees and native bees are essential to maintaining our food supply. Most of our fruits, vegetables and nuts are reliant upon pollinators like bees for their production.
Without these species, 70% of plants would be unable to reproduce or provide food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But last year, American beekeepers reported losing close to 44% of their honey bee colonies. These are serious losses that have been growing over the past 15 years due to pesticides, parasites and a growing human population.
"Habitat loss is also a factor as we build more highways and developments," said Luke Metzger, the executive director of Environment Texas. "And as we convert our landscapes to monoculture, or single crops, the bees and other pollinators that rely on a rich, diverse supply of flowers and nesting spots are having a hard time finding those places."
To help save the bees, a proposed new state law filed by State Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton) would require utilities to plant bee-friendly landscaping after they dig up roadsides of state highways. Another proposed law would require solar farms to provide bee-friendly natural habitats.
Environmentalists say humans may face an uncertain food supply unless we take steps now to protect the busy, buzzing bugs.
"Certainly our food supply is at risk," Metzger said. "The bees are a critical component of pollinating and everything from coffee to chocolate and other things that we know really make life wonderful. But I think even more important is just the loss of these amazing creatures as we are losing species rapidly."
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