Friday, April 5, 2013

This is not good AT ALL

A couple of years ago colony collapse disorder (CCD) made many people worry about the fate of honeybees, which are critical to the cultivation of quite a few crops, notably fruits and nuts.  I had been under the impression that assiduous management of the colonies, i.e. the expulsion and or destruction of any apparently infected hives or individuals, had reduced the occurrences.  Plus they seemed to have figured out how to deal with the varroa mite.

 But now I read that this not the case, and commercial beekeepers have been reporting that last year was a really bad year for honeybees.  A couple of more years like this and things are going to get critical.

Mystery malady kills more bees, heightening worries on farms

A couple of worrisome excerpts:

"A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables."
Further down:  
"Annual bee losses of 5 percent to 10 percent once were the norm for beekeepers. But after colony collapse disorder surfaced around 2005, the losses approached one-third of all bees, despite beekeepers’ best efforts to ensure their health.

Nor is the impact limited to beekeepers. The Agriculture Department says a quarter of the American diet, from apples to cherries to watermelons to onions, depends on pollination by honeybees. Fewer bees means smaller harvests and higher food prices."

"But many beekeepers suspect the biggest culprit is the growing soup of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that are used to control pests. 

While each substance has been certified, there has been less study of their combined effects. Nor, many critics say, have scientists sufficiently studied the impact of neonicotinoids, the nicotine-derived pesticide that European regulators implicate in bee deaths"
 Whatever is causing it, they need to get a handle on it, fast, or pretty soon we'll be talking about the same situation with honeybees that is being contemplated with regard to the little brown bat -- nearly complete disappearance.  Loss of bats means more insect pests that don't get eaten.  Loss of honeybees means less of a lot of things we take for granted.

 People might notice that.

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