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By Adam Aston
As the decline in the bee population continues, a team of French and German scientists has come up with an estimate for what insect pollinators, mostly bees, add to the global economy. The amount: $248 billion in today’s dollars, based on the 2005 harvest, about 9.5% of the value of all food production. The study, published in Ecological Economics, says fruit and vegetables account for about a third of that total. The bee shortage has already hurt growers and consumers worldwide. California almond growers, who require 1.5 million bee colonies for pollination, are renting hives for $200 each, up from $35 two years ago. In China, where pesticide overuse has killed off pollinators in some fruit orchards, farm workers have resorted to dabbing pollen into blooms by hand.