http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2005/03/28/m1a_honeybees_0328.html â¢ The varroa mite has killed or severely weakened an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of honeybees in the United States during the past six months. â¢ Millions of acres of U.S. fruit, nut, vegetable, seed and legume crops depend on insect pollination. An estimated 80 percent of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honeybees. â¢ Crops that require bees for pollination include apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, oranges, grapefruit, sunflowers, tangerines and watermelon. In addition, the production of most beef and dairy products depends on alfalfa, clover and other plants that require pollination. â¢ Honeybees are ideal for pollination because they can be managed easily and moved to where they are needed. They also will pollinate a wide variety of crops without harming the plants. "If honeybees ceased to exist, two-thirds of the citrus, all of the watermelons, the blueberries, strawberries, pecans and beans would disappear," said Jerry Hayes, apiary inspection chief with the state's Division of Plant Industry. But now it's the bee itself that is disappearing. Under attack from a Southeast Asian parasite, vast numbers of the creatures are dying off, worried industry experts say. More than 50 percent of the bees in California, critical to the success of the Golden State's almond crop, have died during the past six months. Frantic growers there have sent out the call around the world, including Florida, for hives.