Kept bees, as well as wild bees, bats, monarch butterflies and others, are in deep trouble and have been for years because of disease, loss of genetic diversity, exposure to pesticides and other, less-understood factors. Around 30 percent of honeybee colonies fail each year, twice the pace of historical averages.
A major problem for honeybees is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenonmenon where a hive suddenly dies. The exact causes of CCD aren't known.
Pretty dire picture, right? Now the government is taking some concrete steps: throwing $50 million at the problem in next year's budget, for one. They're also forming a task force (which usually produces a yawn), but then telling that task force to do things like clean up and expand pollinator habitats. A public education push is also planned so that everyone understands how important pollinators are to our future food safety.
The White House actually hit the nail on the head: "Pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators-including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies-from the environment. The problem is serious and poses a significant challenge that needs to be addressed to ensure the sustainability of our food production systems, avoid additional economic impacts on the agricultural sector, and protect the health of the environment."