Honeybees are used to pollinate the majority of humanity's crops around the world. Without them, fully half or more of our production of food would fail, leading to massive starvation and death worldwide. Bees have evolved for hundreds of millions of years, and are very good at what they do. But when humans arrived on the scene and started "hijacking" the bee's native abilities for our own uses, we messed with their system -- and not in a good way. Now it looks like we might be on the verge of a very steep, dark and treacherous decline.
Between pesticides, herbicides, genetics, selective breeding, the practice of monogenetic breeding and infection, we've put the honeybee on a path to potential destruction -- and our own health and future in jeopardy, too. While there are many non-honeybee pollinators out there (even many other bee species), the fact is that there aren't enough native pollinators to take up the slack if the honeybee populations crash and fail. We've not had a time in this country's history where such a large portion of the population are at a threat for starvation and disease -- even the great Dustbowl years didn't compare in the potential for overall crop devastation and failure.
What this will mean in the future, I don't know. It's possible that this massive, worldwide die-off is transitory and temporary, and over the next few years, the bee populations will recover. Or, in the worst case scenario, the populations are decimated permanently all over, and it could result in a total collapse of agricultural food production.
Think about it -- we're nearly to 7 billion humans on the planet (and well beyond that number of domesticated animals that depend on our agricultural food supply to survive). Based on conservative estimates, even if we restrict reproduction as humanely and efficiently as possible, the human population will probably not stabilize until well over 10 billion. Our food generating capacity right now is probably sufficient to feed all those mouths, but just barely (and let's not get into the difficulties and costs of distribution of food worldwide -- another great big problem area).
Now imagine if 25-50% of the world's food supply were cut down by the devastation of the bees. What consequences would result? Mass starvation? Rise of totalitarian states? Collapse of international alliances and accords? War?
The rising disaster in honeybees is only one facet of the greater problem, but without doubt, it's one that could have a rapid and devastating effect on the world economy and security within the next decade.