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Massive Honey Bee Wane Threatens World Crops

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Apiarists across the United States and Europe were disturbed to find this season's bee hives empty.

Industrialisation and the rapid economic development has radically altered eco-systems and has put a strain on our honeybees and their hives.

The United States and Europe have witnessed a sharp decline (80 percent) in the bee population.

Apiculturists in northern Croatia approximated that 6 million bees died in just a 48 hour period this year.

Poland's Swietokrzyskie Beekeeper Association has estimated that upwards of 40 percent of their bees were wiped out in 2006.

Spain has lost thousands upon thousands of Apis mellifera. Colonies, once abundant, have suddenly gone absent.

Other countries such as Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal have also reported extreme bee casualties and/or disappearances.

Impact

Most people don't give much notice to insects and their enormous impact on our own survival.

Just one hive of Apis mellifera can work on a million flowering plants, including fruits and vegetables, within a 400 square kilometre area in just 24 hours. Without bees, 130,000 plants that we rely on will suffer greatly or vanish.

Over 90 fruit and vegetable crops rely on bees, which include apples, blackberries, cherries, cucumbers, pears, pumpkins, peaches, raspberries, soybeans, and strawberries.

Usual Suspects

Typically, honeybees die in the Winter season, but scientist find few dead bees to support this normal life cycle. Instead, the honeybees have basically "disappeared". Scientist have coined this recent epidemic "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD).

Although scientists are unsure of the actual cause, there are a few common suspects.

Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) - Mono-culture based foods like wheat and corn have contributed to honeybee malnutrition. Monsantos Triple Hybrid GM corn can be linked to bee deaths as far back as 2005.

Bt Toxin is produced by Bacillus thuringiensis in an dormant form (protoxin). It becomes active (delta-endotoxin) in the bodies of certain insects, which in turn kills them. Bt Maize (corn) and BT Cotton are commonly produced with this toxin in the U.S., Europe, as well as several other countries. Bees cannot distinguish between conventional plants and GMO plants, so they are being affected in recorded numbers.

GAUCHO is banned in France's sunflower fields due to its effect of the bee population, however it is still used in that country's maize crops and is still being used in America and other countries. This Chloronicotinyl pesticide is known to exceed the performance of conventional planting time insecticides. GAUCHO is manufactured by the Bayer Corporation. The company's subsidiary, Bayer CropScience, is represented in 122 countries.

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Anai Rhoads is a Human Rights journalist originally from Athens, Greece. Her work has been featured on several web-based newspapers and media outlets, which include ZMagazine, InfoShop.com, and Media Monitors. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief (more...)
 
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