Friday, May 18, 2007

News roundup about the missing honeybees

The continuing mystery of the missing honeybees appears to be deepening based on web published news reports I’ve found this morning. The most striking of these reports is an article published in Ireland that provides a good, overall picture of this problem on a worldwide scale. According to the Mayo Advertiser of Athlone, Ireland, the problem is indeed a worldwide phenomenon and the numbers involved are staggering.

The paper reports, “A decline in bee numbers in Europe together with a 50 per cent drop in the number of managed honeybee colonies has been recognised as a global phenomenon known as the “pollination crisis”.” Until now the reports I have read focused only on the problem in America and referenced past examples of this occurring in other countries, but this article is reporting that this event is happening worldwide.

In yet another article, this time from the Hudson-Star Observer of Hudson Wisconsin, a beekeeper interviewed added this interesting observation, “The biggest beekeepers, however, take bees around the country (for a fee) and turn them loose on farmers’ fields, etc. That’s where the disappearing bees are turning up.” There are two ways you can interpret that statement but the way I am interpreting it is that the bees that are disappearing are the bees that are being taken to pollinate crops.

If the bees are disappearing when they are taken to farms to provide pollination services, this is a big smoking gun. It should certainly concern us all as to exactly why those crops are causing the disappearances. Are pesticides to blame? There have been previous colony collapses that were caused by lethal pesticides. Are genetically modified (GM) crops to blame? That angle has been getting a lot more comments from the conspiracy theory community. Environmentalists have debated at length about GM crops for well over a decade now with one processed food manufacturer that I know of (Linda McCartney Foods) banning their use in all foods made by the company.

A final and far more disturbing article comes from The author quotes a Penn State Extension Specialist who said:

"I’ve had several people in Washington, D. C., in the last several months telling me that honey bees are a canary for the human race. The canary is what was used in mines to see whether there was oxygen, or not enough oxygen, for the miners. If the canary fell over, why it was time to get out. And Penn State has already found it looks like the immune system has been broken down on these honey bees. So, if the immune system is broken down and this stuff is going into our food supply, how much does it take to take out humans?

You know, I hate to be pessimistic about the situation, but it just doesn’t appear good."

Later in the interview She continues:

"First of all, a third of the food supply in the United States – and actually the world – a third of the food supply is directly related to the honey bee: fruits, vegetables, nuts, just a lot of stuff that we eat, that we’re accustomed to have every day, the honey bee is directly responsible for it. And then, there is probably another 30% of what we consume that honey bees are indirectly responsible for. Take the milk we drink. The cows have to have hay. They’ve got to eat clover and alfalfa to produce milk. And if you go back and listen to what (Albert) Einstein told us – he said if the honey bees disappeared off the face of the Earth, within four years, all life would be gone. Even the wildlife depends on plants pollinated by the honey bees for berries and so on. So, it’s not just humans not being able to get apples and carrots. We’re talking about a real big, serious problem!"

For more posts on the honeybee mystery click here or click the Honeybees tag at the bottom of this posting.

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