To many people, bees are simply an insect designed for the sole purpose of making grown men shriek in fear. But they serve an important ecological function and their numbers in New York are declining.

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According to a study done by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, bees and other pollinators are disappearing at an alarming rate in New York. And before you celebrate the declined risk of finding yourself on the wrong end of a stinger, you should know that these pollinators are responsible for maintaining some of New York's natural beauty.

In an interview with James Dean of the Cornell Chronicle, Bryan Danforth, professor in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University, said "There is evidence that there's really been a dropoff in the abundance of many of these species, and that's worrisome. A lot of New York state agriculture depends on insect-pollinated crops, so that's a practical reason to be concerned. And if we lose some of these bees, we will lose a very interesting slice of insect diversity in New York. We could also lose some native wildflowers."

According to the article, the Empire State Native Pollinator Study concluded that at least 38% and as many as 60% of the pollinators included in the study are at risk. Less than half of the species covered in the study were ranked as a secure species.

The 2016 New York State Pollinator Protection Plan outlined a number of potential causes for the decline in pollinator population in the state, including climate change and urban development. The study also noted pesticide exposure, pathogens and poor management practices by beekeepers as major factors in the decline.

So how can New York fix the issue and start to rebuild the pollinator population? Well, it's too late to curb the effects of urban development in the state. But there's still time to attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change in New York and promote better pest control practices that minimize the effect that pesticides have on the pollinator population. There are also a number of suggestions for beekeepers to maintain healthy colonies in the 2016 study. And continued study by experts in the field could uncover new solutions to the problem.

Bees are an annoyance to most people. But while you're trying to hide from a bee that seems intent on ruining your day, try to remember that bee has an important role to play in New York's ecosystem.

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