Thursday, April 26, 2007

Where They BEE??

Well, here is some weird news.
The New York Times reports that Bees Vanish and Scientist Race for Reasons.
What is happening to the bees?
More than a quarter of the country's 2.4 million bee colonies have been lost -- tens of billions of bees, according to an estimate from the Apiary Inspectors of America, a national group that tracks beekeeping. So far, no one can say what is causing the bees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives.

As with any great mystery, a number of theories have been posed, and many seem to researchers to be more science fiction than science. People have blamed genetically modified crops, cellular phone towers and high-voltage transmission lines for the disappearances. Or was it a secret plot by Russia or Osama bin Laden to bring down American agriculture? Or, as some blogs have asserted, the rapture of the bees, in which God recalled them to heaven? Researchers have heard it all.

Ok, the cell tower theory made sense to me and genetically modified crops could reasonably be confusing to a bee and cause "colony collapse disorder," the name given for the disappearing bee syndrome.
Scientists have ruled out problems with natural enemies of the bee like mites or Yogi Bear or Winnie the Pooh, so the focus is on the most likely suspects: a virus, a fungus or a pesticide.
The bee C.S.I. people have collected samples in several states and have begun doing bee autopsies and genetic analysis. Researchers have found and are examining evidence that suggests something may be weakening their immune system.

So far, colony collapse disorder has been found in 27 states, according to Bee Alert Technology Inc., a company monitoring the problem. A recent survey of 13 states by the Apiary Inspectors of America showed that 26 percent of beekeepers had lost half of their bee colonies between September and March.
Adult bees are just disappearing from their hives and colonies collapse as fast as two days.

The L A Times specifically named a fungus that may have jumped from the Asian honeybee to the Western honeybee as a potential cause. But it is still a big mystery far from being solved.

What I didn't know is that honey bees are arguably the insects that are most important to the human food chain.
Besides a loss in honey production, commercial beehives are used to pollinate one-third of the country's agricultural crops, including apples, peaches, pears, nectarines, cherries, strawberries and pumpkins. Ninety percent of California's almond crop is dependent on bees, and a loss of commercial hives could be devastating.
So the little honeybee is threatened by some monster and so are we.
We are all connected.


John Blatchford said...

I have just written a brief article about the Honeybee crisis which you might find of interest

Monica Roberts said...

You have to BEE concerned when an insect that is responsible for pollinating our food supply suddenly starts having problems.

Being concerned about the environment is just not a far left California issue as it's been derisively painted by right-wing talk show hosts. Some of these issues impact our very survival as a species on this planet.

Dharmashanti said...

A couple of days ago, we had a cluster of bees about the size of a football (the cluster, not the bees themselves) that took up temporary residence in one of the small trees in the parking lot at work. So at least one colony here seems to be doing well enough to branch off and start a new one.

Phoenix, AZ

Anonymous said...

This is what I'm doing about the bees:

My inaugural address at the Great White Throne Judgment of the Dead, after I have raptured out billions! The Secret Rapture soon, by my hand!
Read My Inaugural Address
My Site=

Jackie said...

Thanks John, for the info. Monica, I hope the bees make it for their own sake and ours.
Dharma, I hope your bees escape this strange enemy.