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Please Lord, not the bees

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Bumblebees are, however, doing well in one region, Neath Port Talbot, which was declared the bumblebee capital of Wales in 2004 after experts found 15 different species thriving there. This is almost certainly because the local council allows roadside verges to become overgrown with “weeds” and wildflowers. (20)

Surprise — it’s an ecosystem thing. As with honeybees and CCD, the root of the bumblebee problem lies in our modern rationalist drive toward endlessly ordering the world around us. The long-term solution is a return to a more natural ecological order. This interpretation needs to be conveyed when mainstream media tell the CCD story.

Of course, with all the parasites, pathogens, pesticides and transit to stress out our hardworking honey bees, they are in peril. Even if some silver bullet saves us from CCD, it is more than obvious that we need to pay more respect to bees, and to nature. This truth may be generalized to most facets of our agricultural existence; the bees are just a warning. Wherever you look, pests are getting stronger as the life forms we depend on get weaker. Adding more chemicals isn’t going to help for much longer.

Beekeepers are a busy and underpaid lot, and we should pay more heed to their services. Even now, with the vanishing bee story headlining on major networks, government players appear to have their eyes elsewhere. “There used to be a lot more regulation than there is today,” says Arizona beekeeper Victor Kaur. “People import bees and bring new diseases into the country. One might be colony collapse disorder.” (30)

“The bees are dying, and I think people are to blame,” is how Kaur puts it simply. “Bee keeping is much more labor intensive now than it was 15 years ago. It’s a dying profession,” he eulogizes. “The average age of a beekeeper is 62, and there are only a couple of thousand of us left. There are only about 2.5 million hives left. …It’s too much work.” (30)

If CCD proves to be more than a one-time seasonal fluke, the job of beekeeping just got a lot harder. Pollination can’t be outsourced, although it isn’t too difficult to imagine fields full of exploited underclass laborers pollinating crops by Q-tip. Let’s hope we never have to go there.

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Perhaps a sensible reaction to the information summarized in this short article would be to write a letter to your government leaders. Insist that they immediately allocate significant funding to combat CCD using a variety of approaches. This must include ecological approaches such as wildflower renewal. Furthermore, insist that our few remaining beekeepers be given the support they deserve and desperately need at this important juncture. Humanity cannot afford to ignore this battle. It’s not science; it’s common sense.


1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_Collapse_Disorder
2 http://maarec.cas.psu.edu/FAQ/FAQCCD.pdf
FAQ’s Colony Collapse Disorder (PDF), Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium, CCD Working Group
See also: http://www.ento.psu.edu/MAAREC/index.html
3 http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Alarm_sounded_over_US_honey_bee_die-off
Alarm sounded over US honey bee die-off
Wikinews, February 10, 2007
4 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6438373.stm
Vanishing bees threaten US crops
By Matt Wells, March 11, 2007
5 http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/ap_070211_bee_disease.html
Mystery Ailment Strikes Honeybees
By Genaro C. Armas, Associated Press, February 11, 2007
6 http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2449968.ece
Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?
By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross, April 15, 2007
7 http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?p=137300
Thread on dubious Einstein quote.
8 http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/americas/04/22/vanishing.bees.reut/index.html
Vanishing honeybees mystify scientists
Reuters, April 22, 2007
9 http://www.bushfarms.com/beespests.htm
Enemies of Bees
by Michael Bush
10 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070426100117.htm
Scientists Identify Pathogens That May Be Causing Global Honey-Bee Deaths
Source: Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, April 26, 2007
11 http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/050517_bee_mite.html
Bees Wiped Out by Cascade of Deadly Events
By Robert Roy Britt, May 17, 2005
12 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/05/050517110843.htm
Bee Mites Suppress Bee Immunity, Open Door For Viruses And Bacteria
Source: Penn State, May 18, 2005
13 http://eepicheep.gnn.tv/B21650
Labchuk’s email is reproduced in comments section; authorship was confirmed by this writer
14 http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm
Bush Bees Website
15 http://agriculture.senate.gov/Hearings/
Regional Farm Bill field hearing: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, July 21, 2006
16 http://www.aginfo.psu.edu/News/07Jan/HoneyBees.htm
Honey bee die-off alarms beekeepers, crop growers and researchers
Penn State press release Jan 29, 2007
17 http://www.journaltimes.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=12512
Colony collapse disorder is reducing U.S. bee population
By Zena McFadden, Medill News Service, April 26, 2007
18 http://www.apimondia.org/apiacta/articles/2003/porrini.pdf
Honey Bees and Bee Products as Monitors of the Environmental Contamination (PDF)
Porrini et al., University of Bologna,
In Apiacta, the journal of the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations
( http://www.beekeeping.com/apimondia/apiacta_us.htm )
19 http://www.voanews.com/english/2007-04-27-voa3.cfm
Taiwan Is Latest Country Stung by Vanishing Honey Bees
By Jessica Berman, VOA News, April 27, 2007
20 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/south_west/3747337.stm
Secret of bumblebee capital
BBC, 25 May, 2004
21 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061211220927.htm
Research Upsetting Some Notions About Honey Bees
Source: Texas A&M University – Agricultural Communications, December 29, 2006
22 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/tayside_and_central/6558973.stm
Bid to halt bumblebee decline
BBC, April 16, 2007
23 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/17/bumblebee_crisis/
UK’s bumblebees face extinction
By Lester Haines
24 http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/insects/
In Depth Insects: The plight of the honeybee
CBC News Online, Updated April 12, 2007
25 http://www.thestar.com/article/203818
Why are Niagara’s bees dying?
By Dana Flavelle, Toronto Star, April 17, 2007
26 http://tinyurl.com/2wnyjv
Bee mite found on Oahu
Apr 12, 2007 by Katherine Fisher, Hawaii Health Guide.com
27 http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/
Experts may have found what’s bugging the bees
By Jia-Rui Chong and Thomas H. Maugh II, LA Times, April 26, 2007
28 http://tinyurl.com/246o9v
Senator Clinton Calls on USDA to Respond
All American Patriots, April 20, 2007
29 http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/04/26/taiwan_bee_mystery/
Taiwan mislays millions of honeybees
By Lester Haines, The Register, April 26, 2007
30 http://tinyurl.com/39a2wk
Collapsing colonies
By Joanne C. Twaddell, The Daily Courier, April 23, 2007
31 http://tinyurl.com/343f8b
A Comparison of Russian and Italian Honey Bees (PDF)
By David R. Tarpy, NC State University, and Jeffrey Lee, Beekeeper, Mebane NC
32 http://tinyurl.com/37ax5j
Tiers bees avoid deadly disease
By Salle E. Richards, Elmira Star-Gazette, April 3, 2007

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Peter Dearman is a Canadian teaching English and living in Taiwan. He is concerned about the generally high level of bad things happening in the world today, especially on the matters of depleted uranium, repression in Burma, stolen elections, organ (more...)

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