Tuesday, April 10, 2007

To Bee or Not To Bee

Splendid as it is, the Internet is not necessarily trustworthy. Thus, I am unable to confirm or refute the remark, attributed to Einstein that if honeybees became extinct, mankind would follow within a few years. Still, there’s a general consensus among sources, including the BBC and The New York Times, regarding the strange disappearance of honeybees in 24 of the United States at a loss rate of 30 to 70 percent.
They’re calling it colony collapse disorder (CCD), and they don’t know its cause. Dr. Clarence Collison, who heads Mississippi State University’s Entomology Department, reports that researchers have observed a number of pathogens affecting adult bees. Of these, the majority of pathogens are linked to stress related illnesses. A Penn State scientist has established that these bees have weakened immune systems, Collison adds.
This is not, however, the first time bee populations have dwindled. Populations dwindled during the early nineties and middle seventies. A bee population collapse also occurred in 1896, however Collison rates the current collapse as the worst in his experience.
The magnitude of population collapse is shocking. The Washington Post reported on one beekeeper’s transport of two truckloads of bees for use in pollinating almond trees. When he arrived in California, most of his cargo was dead. Often beekeepers discover their hives have been vacated by all but the queen and the young. Some have speculated that sick bees don’t return to their hive in order to prevent its other members from becoming contaminated. Others have speculated that bees are being blinded by increased UV light due to an enlarged hole in the ozone layer. Another possible explanation is that environmental toxins cause them to become disoriented and unable to find their way home.
Though most reports of CCD have come from the United States, Linda Moulton Howe reports that nine countries in Europe and Canada also now are reporting massive declines in bee populations. Bee pollination is a fundamental necessity on which depends much of the food consumed by animals and men. Even if Einstein didn’t make the remark about extinction, anyone who’s learned about the birds and the bees should be concerned about CCD.

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Dave Loeff (davelef.com) is an author and graphic designer. In addition to fiction, Dave writes about graphics, travel, and other topics. Find him at http://truthandtalltales.com.

Dave worked domestically in the sewn goods industry, before he became a buyer in Taiwan. He subsequently worked as a mental health clinician, technical writer, computer technician, and graphic designer.

His freelance services include conversion of manuscripts into eBooks, photo retouching, book design and illustration,