It seems nowhere is safe for bees these days. The superstar insects, which are critical natural pollinators of many of the world's crops, have experienced devastating population decline across the U.S. and Europe in recent years. One of the biggest threats has been a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, in which worker bees or honeybees mysteriously disappear from their hives. But now, a new threat faces bees in California and other parts of the country: almonds.
As NPR reports, up to 80,000 colonies have suffered losses on almond farms throughout California's San Joaquin Valley this year. "This is not normal," Eric Muston, a beekeeping researcher at UC Davis, told NPR. "We haven't been seeing this for years and years and years. We used to see a touch of it here and there, but it's becoming more frequent."
That's because many farmers have resorted to a new form of pesticide and insecticide use known as "tank mixing," where they combine different treatments to crops at the same time. "Growers don't want to go through the fields time after time after time putting on different pesticide materials," Muston explained, "so they basically tank mix them all together and put them on."