Three spotted Digger Bee Habropoda excellens (Photo: Sam Droege/USGS)

Three spotted Digger Bee Habropoda excellens (Photo: Sam Droege/USGS)

If you like food, you had better like pollinators, because you eat their work. Bees, hoverflies, butterflies, and other pollinators are essential to the production of 60 percent of crop species and 35 percent of total crop production. Apart from putting food on our tables, their services are worth about $200 billion a year worldwide. And the problem for farmers, conservationists, and food lovers alike is that pollinator populations are collapsing everywhere. They’re under assault from pesticides, pollution, habitat loss, and climate change, among other factors.

To fix the pollinator crisis, researchers need to know which species are declining, and under what circumstances. But that’s generally a slow, costly, cumbersome process, requiring highly trained taxonomists to prepare a species and identify it under a microscope. It can take years to get the results—and there aren’t enough taxonomists to do the job, in any case. So instead of studying them in minute detail, some researchers now think mashing pollinators into a soup may be

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