Saturday, November 28, 2009
Today I ran across a Globe and Mail web piece by Reese Halter, titled Why Honeybees are Falling Through the Cracks. Over the last two years I've read a lot about honeybees and something called Colony Collapse Disorder. Halter's first line is blunt: 'Over the past three years, more than 50 billion honeybees have died.' His article goes on to talk about the wonderful things bees give us - $47 billion a year in food crops in the U.S. (sorry, I don't know the figure for here in Canada - 4.7 B?) ... honey, wax, and the absolute beauty of more flowers and plants. Colony Collapse Disorder is a funny thing ... one aspect of it is that the bees simply fly away from their hives, not to be found. Although I've read papers talking about multiple pesticide effects (especially the nerve poison neonicotinoids), lowered immune systems in bees, stresses caused by transportation - by truck - of colonies over long distances, hive humidity, and varroa mites ... individually and synergistically causes of CCD ... well, I cannot get past the part about the bees simply leaving their hives and disappearing. Perhaps the synergistic effects of all the above-mentioned things do cause disorientation. But my story-loving, fable-loving self believes that the bees have simply become tired of all the stresses - meaning they are tired of us - and have gone away. And we humans are left behind, bewildered and bereft, like the Ents when the Entwives left. The bee disappearances are like a 1950s science fiction short ... an unbelieveable event with an explanation that, when given, will be either such a twist or so obvious that we will shake our heads in disbelief of the cause or at our own stupidity in missing it. Halter ends his article by advocating for organic food production, and by encouraging us to plant native yellow and blue flowers. (no, I don't know why he doesn't mention reds...sorry). I'm all for anyone who tells me to plant flowers. Perhaps if we plant beauty the bees will come back.