Native bees provide insurance against ongoing honey bee losses
“One of the values of biodiversity is that it may provide ‘biological insurance’ for services currently rendered by domesticated species or technology. We used crop pollination as a model system, and investigated whether the loss of a domesticated pollinator (the honey bee) could be compensated for by native, wild bee species….Simulation results predict that native bees alone provide sufficient pollination at > 90% of the farms studied. Furthermore, empirical total pollen deposition at flowers was strongly, significantly correlated with native bee visitation but not with honey bee visitation.”
This is extremely encouraging, and I’d be interested in seeing this tested. However, excluding honeybees while allowing native bees access is a pretty tall order.
This was especially interesting in the context of Doug’s recent post about why conserving biodiversity is important. (Which very good, BTW, and you should read it.)
I look at this paper on native bees, and I think “Great! More evidence I can use to convince people to save habitat!” But–are we really at a stage where the only way we can justify conservation is utilitarian?
Regrettably, I think the answer is yes. An aesthetic/intrinsic value argument is doomed. We are a utilitiarian culture, and most people want to know what Use/Value something is before they take action.
Which kind of sucks.