The Birds and the Bees and Hunters

Is there a link between honeybees and upland gamebird populations? Absolutely. According to biologists with the conservation group Pheasants Forever , the birds and the bees isn't just an awkward talk you have with your children...

From this story in the North Platte Bulletin:
As part of National Pollinator Week June 21-27, Pheasants Forever hosted habitat tours in Nebraska, stressing the importance of honey bees. During spring and summer months, forbs (flowering plants) are critically important to pheasants and quail. After they hatch, young chicks survive almost exclusively on a diet of insects. _These insects depend on a mix of forbs in and around nesting cover. Likewise, a mix of flowering plants creates the best brood cover to allow pheasant and quail chicks to move at ground level with protection from flying predators. Pollinators and gamebirds require flowering plant species from April to October to provide the best chance for survival.

"We've been creating honey bee habitat at Pheasants Forever since 1982<" said Pete Berthelsen, a senior biologist with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever. "These days, we're talking about pollinators every day. With the catastrophic results of Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees and the subsequent decline in pollinator populations, there is a real opportunity for our organization to be part of the remedy through habitat creation." Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon of honey bees from a beehive abruptly "disappearing." There is no clear cause for the syndrome, but insecticides and loss of pollinator habitat are both suspected to play a large role.

Colony Collapse Disorder has been on a dramatic rise in the last decade; bringing significant economic implications. According to the National Research Council, the annual value of honey bee pollination to U.S. agriculture is between $14 and $19 billion. "It's easy to overlook the significance of pollinators," Berthelsen said. "They're small, quiet and often categorized as a nuisance insect. However, it's time we take pollinators seriously." More pollinator habitat will increase the numbers of game birds. Pollinators are critical to the price of food and the nation's ability to produce food, he said._

Pretty fascinating stuff, and one more example of just how interrelated ecosystems truly are. Your thoughts?