Quick Take: The Butterfly Effect

Make that the honeybee effect, or lack thereof. An interesting article from U.S. News and World Report (based on work from the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium) documents a dramatic and mysterious collapse in honey bee colonies.

"So what?" you ask? You might not question for long -- not if you buy almonds or any of the myriad other bee-pollinated products that line the shelves at Whole Foods Markets (Nasdaq: WFMI  ) . Fewer bees means higher prices for pollination, and the buck will be passed.

But it's not just the higher-end, natural food stores that stand to lose. If things get bad enough, we could see a trickle-down effect everywhere from Hershey (NYSE: HSY  ) to Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) .

Honey bee pollination is a large but largely unappreciated process that involves 90 food crops and contributes to an estimated $15 billion a year worth of food biz. Here's hoping entomologists can figure out the problem and bring back the buzz.

Comments? Bring them here.

Whole Foods is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. Wal-Mart is an Inside Value pick. You can try any of our premium newsletter services for free.

At the time of publication, Seth Jayson had no positions in any company mentioned here. See his latest blog commentary here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.


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