The future of almonds is uncertain

almonds in a bowl
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Their fate is tied to that of bees,这也不算太好。

瓦罗螨可能是微小的,but it has an outsized impact on one of America's favorite healthy snack foods – almonds.微小的寄生虫,which first arrived in Florida in the 1980s,已经成为一个严重的威胁,因为它感染并杀死蜜蜂,这是需要授粉杏花在春天。With an outbreak of varroa mites,there won't be enough bees,and the almond crop will suffer.

As one bee expert from Oregon State Universitytold NPR,major bee losses were predicted for this year because of these mites.Ramesh Sigili said,

"It's a very lethal parasite on honey bees.It causes significant damage not only to the bee,but to the entire colony.A colony might be decimated in months if this varroa mite isn't taken care of."

The mites enter the hive and burrow into the cells where baby bees are reared.It lays eggs on top of the baby's body and raises its own young on top,eventually (quite literally) sucking the life out of the bee's body.

这是养蜂人和杏仁种植户面临的另一个挑战,他们之间有着有趣的共生关系。The almond bloom takes place in California's Central Valley every February and,as demand for almonds has grown,the number of trees needing to be pollinated in this fairly short window of time has increased too.

Almond farmers import bees from all over the country.They're shipped in hives from Florida and New York and placed in almond orchards to begin their work.Paige Embryexplains in the Huffington Posthow the bees' natural behavior is manipulated to allow for pollination:

"Each January,the sluggish bees are prodded into action much earlier than what would be their normal routine.They are fed substitutes for their natural foods of pollen and nectar so they will quickly repopulate the hive to be ready for almonds.They are then loaded onto trucks and shipped across the country,plopped in an empty field and fed more substitute food while they wait for almonds to bloom."

It's a huge income generator for beekeepers,who can make up to a third of their annual salary during this season;and it's a necessity for the almond farmers,who are constantly scrambling for bee colonies.

The problem,though,is that there never seem to be enough bees to go around.The sensitive pollinators have been harmed by pesticides,loss of wildflowers,poor nutrition,climate change,and viruses;but NPR says that the varroa mite is this year's greatest challenge.

Fortunately,some solutions are in the works.种植者开始意识到,在杏仁树上施用重农药等做法是一种自我破坏,并正在重新思考其方法,e.g.planting alternative forage for bees in the surrounding areas.

Scientists are working on genetically modifying a varroa mite-resistant honeybee and developing a 'blue orchard bee' that could possibly be a replacement for the honeybee someday.

Finally,the Almond Board is assessing whether it could change the standard number of bee colonies released per acre of almonds,which has doubled in recent decades.这可以“缓解对四面楚歌的养蜂人的压力,让他们跟上汹涌的杏仁味”。(via NPR).

So,the next time you're munching on a handful of crunchy almonds,想想所有的工作,已经投入到创造他们,并认为你自己有一些在你的手上可恶的运气。Unless we clean up our agricultural act,future generations might not know the wonders of almonds.

The future of almonds is uncertain
Their fate is tied to that of bees,这也不算太好。

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