Ignorance Is NOT Bliss

Move over, please.

Move over, please.

Albert Einstein made the statement: "If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years." Many people would be surprised to know that 90% of the feral (wild) bee population in the United States has died out... I really hope that my sister is right - that in a couple of years everything will be okay...


Barry's Response - Okay, this sounds serious. First of all, what is happening? The wikipedia page on honeybee colony collapse disorder (CCD, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colony_collapse_disorder ) gives us some startling statistics summed up in this quote:

From 1972 to 2006, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of feral honey bees in the U.S. (now almost nonexistent) and a significant though somewhat gradual decline in the number of colonies maintained by beekeepers.

What has been causing this apparent extinction? Nobody knows for sure, but the wikipedia page points to several possible factors (disease/infestation, malnutrition, pesticides, changes in beekeeping practices, ambient radiation, winter-kill and genetically modified crops), and that each may make a small contribution to this situation leading to a synergistic effect. This is often the case with environmental problems.

What does it all mean? We can all imagine the disaster, going beyond having enough honey for your coffee & toast. Whole agricultural sectors have become aware of a possible threat to their existence. Pollination of fruit crops (which is free, by the way), could cease. Medical production could be knocked out of whack in a similar way.

What to do? The most likely solution may to revisit our use of pesticides, including removing those that threaten bees and introducing those that control organisms that threaten bees (except humans, I suppose). Conservation of their natural habitat should help also.

This is an area of study which shall gain greater attention going forward.

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