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Status of Pollinators in North America
and even human-dominated areas including appropriately managed farms, urban parks, and golf courses. Small changes could produce substantial benefits, but basic information on the resource requirements of a wider variety of pollinator species is needed to improve habitat management. Also, economic and policy incentives would encourage the stewards of a wide range of urban and rural areas to adopt pollinator-friendly practices and also to encourage information exchange and outreach. The most effective and sustainable route to stability in pollination services is to identify and implement practices that promote the availability of diverse commercial and wild pollinators.
MAINTAINING COMMERCIAL POLLINATORS
Apis mellifera: Problems and Solutions
The beekeeping industry is at a critical juncture as it faces a suite of challenges that defy easy solution. The parasitic honey bee mite Varroa destructor, now ubiquitous in North America, is the single greatest threat to a sustainable supply of healthy and affordable honey bee colonies worldwide (DeJong, 1990; DeJong et al., 1982a, 1984). Major wintertime losses of honey bees in the United States every few years since 1993 (Burgett, 1994; Caron and Hubner, 2001; Finly et al., 1996; Lumkin, 2005) are almost certainly attributable to varroa mite infestation, which was exacerbated by the evolution of resistance to standard miticides. The tracheal mite Acarapiswoodi also contributes to the periodic catastrophic winter losses, but reliable data on its prevalence in North America are not available. There are effective treatments for management of tracheal mites, including trachealmite-resistant stocks of bees (Chapter 3). Problems with tracheal mites, to the extent that they exist, can most likely be ameliorated by improved detection and control among beekeepers.
Another serious challenge to the beekeeping industry is the Africanized honey bee, which has colonized several regions of the United States that are important to the commercial queen-and-package bee industry (northern California and the southeastern United States). The bees also migrate with beekeepers to hospitable wintering grounds. Because the Africanized bees have several traits that are undesirable for beekeeping (Chapter 3), it is imperative that the genotype be prevented from coming to predominance in the United States and Canada. The bees’ presence in the southeast—an important area of queen-and-package production for the rest of the United States and a primary wintering ground for beekeepers (Chapter 3)—makes this objective paramount.