President Barack Obama has announced plans to form a “Pollinator Health Task Force” in a bid to save the dwindling population of bees.

Bee populations saw a 23 per cent decline last winter, which is blamed on the loss of genetic diversity and exposure to certain pesticides. A quarter of foods eaten by Americans – including apples, carrots and avocados – rely on pollination, and the process carried out by the honey bee adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States, the White House said.

In a memorandum published by the White House on Friday, Mr Obama said that “given the breadth, severity, and persistence of pollinator losses, it is critical to expand Federal efforts and take new steps to reverse pollinator losses and help restore populations to healthy levels.”

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