Monday, March 10, 2008
Here is my contribution to the honeybee population crash. I am starting a hive of honeybees to counter the colony decline statistics. Last Saturday I assembled fifty frames for comb foundation. The Saturday before that I spent at a beginner beekeeping course taught by the famous Jim Bobb. My local beekeepers knew who he was. All of my friends who are beekeepers are also sailors and boatbuilders. Maybe it is because they like woodworking. Did you know that over one third of our food crops are pollinated by bees?
Something much deeper is at work here. The wikopedia description is fairly good for Colony Collapse Disorder. My apian friends have all had declines and my county is recruiting beekeepers with cash. (of course the article in the paper came out after I had paid for my class.)
“Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is a little-understood phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or Western honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearance has a long-standing history of occurring, the term Colony Collapse Disorder was originally applied to perceived disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in a minority of regions of North America in late 2006.
“European beekeepers observed a similar phenomenon in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree. Possible cases of CCD have also been reported in Taiwan since April 2007.
“The cause or causes of the syndrome are not yet well understood. Theories include environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition, pathogens (i.e., disease including Israel acute paralysis virus), mites, pesticides such as neonicotinoids or imidacloprid, radiation from cellular phones or other man-made devices, and genetically modified (GM) crops with pest control characteristics such as transgenic maize.”
So I see a wider issue, another global indicator for a disrupted ecosystem. I garden and have been watching the bee populations for the last thirty years. When I began raising food in earnest, there were so many bees, I often would get stung at least once a summer from stepping on them in the clover. When the Varroa mites came out there was a large population crash in wild bees. I began seeing a few bees again until last year when there were none but bumbles and carpenter bees. Smithsonian magazine had an article supposing a theory that cell phones might have interferred with the bees GPS.