A frightening buzz over the imminent demise of honeybees — and the disappearance of their critical pollinating prowess — is unfounded, according to a new Canadian-led study that shows their global numbers actually growing.

High-profile stories over the past three years detailing the mysterious decimation of thousands of bee colonies has led to fears the human food supply was being imperilled by a “pollination crisis,” says the study, which appeared last week in the journal Current Biology.

“But the declines in the U.S.A., some European countries and the former U.S.S.R. are more than offset by large increases elsewhere, including Canada, Argentina, Spain and especially China,” says University of Calgary biologist Lawrence Harder.

Ernesto Guzman, head of the University of Guelph’s Honey Bee Research Centre, took issue with the study’s positive assessment, saying it misses the key loss years and fails to distinguish where the colony decimations are taking place.

Rise in hives
Lawrence Harder, who helped lead the worldwide survey of honeybee populations, says the number of hives in this country, for example, rose 65 per cent over the past half-century.

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