Wednesday, November 18, 2009
According to a new article posted at the http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=earth-talks-hive-and-seek, entitled "Hive and Seek:Where have the Honeybees Gone?", scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), now believe Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD) may be
caused by the fact that “pesticides may be having unexpected negative effects on honey bees," or the disorder may be a consequence of "yet unknown parasites, pathogens or viruses (which) could also be wreaking havoc on bee colonies."
Studies have also indicated that poor management of populations of commercial honey bees—including inadequate diet and long distance transportation -may play a role."
"In one study, researchers from Columbia University isolated the presence of a virus—the so-called Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus—in upwards of 96 percent of the hives studied that were affected by CCD. Other studies point to widespread use of Imidacloprid, a common grub-control chemical used on lawns and farms and which has already been banned in France due to its alleged effect on bees. But finding a single cause of CCD seems unlikely, and ARS researchers point to the possibility of “a perfect storm of existing stresses” weakening colonies to the point of collapse..."
The fact that scientific experts have not been able to come up with some sort of "good" explanation for CCD, which could lead to action against the disorder to prevent the death of honey bees, certainly is troubling. With a third of farm production dependent upon the pollination activities of bees, one has to wonder
what affect over the long run CCD will have if some measures are not successful in
dealing with this disorder.
Simon Wilson, in his article, "Where have the bees gone" (source: http://www.moneyweek.com/investment-advice/how-to-invest/where-have-all-the-bees-gone.aspx) states, "Originally used purely for honey, beekeeping nowadays produces pollen, royal jelly and propolis (used for nutritional and medicinal purposes), and beeswax (used in making candles, cosmetics, wood polish and in modelling). Without bees carrying pollen from plant to plant as they gather nectar to make honey, hundreds of types of flowers, fruits and vegetables would die out. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the horticulturalist Philip Miller recognised that pollen was not spread by the wind, but by bees. A few years later, scientists realised that flowering plants (including fruit and vegetables) produced nectar specifically to attract pollinating insects to spread their seeds. This threat, of humans going hungry or having to adapt to a world without vegetables and fruit, is why colony collapse disorder is drawing such attention." The fact that CCD is affecting bees in North America, and also "hitting Europe, with severe losses in Poland, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Switzerland,....Brazil, Guatemala and the United Kingdom (where some beekeepers have seen catastrophic collapses of more than 50% of colonies, especially in southeast England.)," is extremely worrisome.
"Diana Cox-Foster, a US entomologist investigating the crisis, says the range of possible theories - pesticides, malnutrition, antibiotics, mites, rising solar radiation - is 'mind-boggling'. Some say commercial practices may be to blame - US bees do not appear to like being transported around the country - but this cannot explain all cases. Scientists are focusing on the three most likely suspects: a virus, a fungus or a pesticide (a class known as neonicotinoids is of particular concern)."
Simon Wilson concludes his discusssion by stating some very troublesome facts and conclusions:
"The world’s bee population is already down about 60% since 1970. And even before colony collapse appeared six months ago, an American Academy of Sciences panel concluded that bees were suffering from so many diseases that beekeeping may die out as a business by 2035!!
As Seth Borenstein, stated in an article to Associated Press, (source http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/03/952)
"Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.
In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program."
Pulitzer Prize-winning insect biologist E.O. Wilson of Harvard said the honeybee is nature's "workhorse - and we took it for granted."
"We've hung our own future on a thread," Wilson, author of the book "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth," told The Associated Press.
Let us hope that the best scientific minds can sort out Colony Collapse disorder,before we humans have to eat breads, pastas, and cereals for our three meals a day!
Source of image:Lela Dowling/Bee Culture magazine
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Thoughts worth thinking about
Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia
A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed
Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein
The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi
The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller
Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns
Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -
Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw
Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165
The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.