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Prized Pollinators: Honey Bee Population Faces Serious Decline

Honey bees pollinate a quarter of America's food, yet in recent years have been dying at a rate the government says is economically unsustainable.

. Beekeeper Robert Harvey crosses over a barricade as he works to transfer Italian honey bee colonies pollinating a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine, on June 23, 2014.

Over recent years, bees have been dying at a rate the U.S. government says is economically unsustainable. Honey bees pollinate plants that produce about a quarter of the food consumed by Americans, including apples, watermelons and beans. A lawsuit has now been filed by environmental groups in the United States seeking an injunction restricting the approval of a controversial class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, or 'neonics'. These pesticides have become a subject of scrutiny in Europe and the U.S. as concern has mounted that they harm honeybees and other pollinators. Adrees Latif / Reuters

. Beekeepers use a bee smoker to calm colonies before transferring them to another crop after pollinating a blueberry field near Columbia Falls, Maine. Adrees Latif / Reuters

. Beekeepers are seen atop a truck as they secure a cover over beehives before transferring the bees to another crop. Adrees Latif / Reuters

. A colony of Italian worker bees congregate outside their hive while pollinating a blueberry field near Columbia Falls. Adrees Latif / Reuters

. Beekeeper Robert Harvey transfers Italian honey bee colonies on June 22. Adrees Latif / Reuters

. Beekeepers use a bee smoker to calm bee colonies before transferring them to another crop after pollinating a blueberry field. Adrees Latif / Reuters

. Italian honey bees hover around the suit of beekeeper Robert Harvey as he transfers the bee colonies on June 23. Adrees Latif / Reuters

. Beekeepers secure a cover over beehives stacked on a truck as they prepare to transfer the bees to another crop after the bees completed their pollination. Adrees Latif / Reuters