… Beginning last fall and through the spring, an unknown illness caused more than half of the nation’s kept bees to flee their hives and disappear. Researchers still are struggling to understand the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

The problem isn’t confined to a few hobbyist honey farmers or even the 1,000 or so professional beekeepers in Florida.

Simply put: We need bees.

Much of Florida’s $86 billion farming industry, including Indian River citrus, counts on honeybees to pollinate crops.

“We can’t take the importance of the pollination that bees do lightly,” said Fred Burkey, a St. Lucie and Martin county agent for the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. “Statistics show that about a third of the world’s food production is dependent on bees.”

What Burkey called a “way-out-there scenario” would include a price war among the nation’s farmers bidding for a limited number of bees to pollinate their crops, with similar price increases for fruit and vegetables at the grocery store as a result. Further “out there” could be worldwide food shortages.

Full article here.