Thursday, February 21, 2019

The flowers are here, now where have all the honeybees gone?

by Charles Harmison (writer), Kauai, Hawaii, May 30, 2007


Reports are still sketchy and investigations are underway but one thing is clear since last summer the North American bee population has decreased by 40, 60, and even as much as 70 percent in some areas. Hundreds of millions of bees disappeared and/or died over the winter. Honey farms across the county are reporting thousands of hives decimated and not one person, farmer or scientist, can conclusively explain why.

Theories are flying and speculations range from cell phone signals messing with the bees communications to each other, to a bee version of a pandemic such as Aids. Even abusive handling, antibiotics, or pesticides could be forcing them to lose their natural defenses. No matter the cause the result is unmistakable.

For most, the problem isn't what are we gonna do to help the bees, but rather, who is going to pollinate the millions of acres of agriculture this summer now that the bee population is MIA?

Unfortunately the news of the population's collapse came a little too late for California's most lucrative crop the almond groves. Farmers are reporting a record decline in growth of the almond trees this year and attribute this decline to the lack of free labor provided by the worker bees. In addition the fruit farms such as oranges and apples are also showing serious signs of demise. Florida's orange farmers are clamoring.

This of course is not to mention that if you like a little honey in your tea you might have to pony up some dough this year to get it as the honey farmers are losing almost everything.

Bees are an active species in the overall ecosystem and they travel long distances as different flowers bloom to offer them their much coveted nectar to produce their honey. Commercial farmers increase this migration by packing the hives in trucks and moving them about the country to fertilize the various crops as the seasons change. As this man made migration travels, bees perform the necessary function of fertilizing nearly all the crops in the United States. If the plants aren't fertilized then they cannot produce the various seed products that humans and many other animals consume. It is estimated as much as 90% of America's crops will be affected this summer by this lack of free migrant labor.

Autopsies are underway to determine the cause of what scientists are dubbing "Colony Collapse Disaster" and preliminary reports are grim to say the least. Those remaining bees studied are showing indications that they are riddled with viruses and diseases. One particularly being the Aspergillus virus affecting them only because the honeybees' immune systems are nearly completely broken down. In addition the worker bees are not returning to their hives and the living ones seem lost and wander around as if they're unable to maintain any sense of direction or communication.

This is not the first time that bee populations have taken serious hits to their numbers but it most certainly is the most severe in the 200 hundred years that records have been kept. It is such an issue that a hearing has even made its way to the floor of the House in Washington focusing on nothing less than the nation's food supply.

Needless to say don't swat the bees this summer and if you see one in your house or your car try to let him out because he might be one of the only ones left still providing you with food.

About the Writer

Charles Harmison is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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6 comments on The flowers are here, now where have all the honeybees gone?

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By Steven Lane on May 30, 2007 at 11:23 pm
According to a bee expert I saw on Discovery, there is nothing magical about the decline. He said it is business as usual about every 15 years.
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By Jen on May 31, 2007 at 03:48 pm
Steven, business as usual was my gut reaction. I've got an email out to an ecologist that I know but have not heard back yet. The whole thing reminds me of the media hype surrounding the few cases of west nile virus a few years ago. I cant wait to see what they'll try to scare us with next...
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By Charles Harmison on June 01, 2007 at 03:36 pm
I didn't say anything about blaming anyone and i didn't attack your precious neocons one bit nor mention anything about global warming. The fact is the bees are dead and crops are going to suffer apparently reporting the news isn't ok with u either El Stop reading my articles if you don't like them, i certainly don't read yours anymore. Rather than commenting on them and coming back over and over with multiple personae to vote for your idiotic rants. Just focus on worrying about who's the next douche for your report, and ignore my uninspired and sanctimonious . . . oh and highly rated articles.
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By Charles Harmison on June 05, 2007 at 11:54 pm
I'm not sure who wrote this review but i thought that everyone should see it. Thanks for the words to whomever wrote it. "I began noticing a disturbing decrease in bees in my tiny garden a year or two ago. I also noticed fewer bird calls and fewer insects. It's becoming more and more difficult to be an optimist, because all the red flag are there in plain sight and have been for quite some time, yet we chose and continue to ignore them. You don't have to be a science fiction writer to write the scenarios that could be coming faster than we think. Google Paris Hilton and you get millions of pages, but how many articles are there out there on the topic of honeybees, birds, frogs and insects disappearing?"
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By crisdel on June 06, 2007 at 03:36 pm
I think this is a hugely important topic Charles - one which easily falls prey to those so-called experts who almost always have some kind of financial or political motive. Even honey no longer contains the nutrients it once did unless it is completely organic - and isn't it strange how the organic hives have not NOT been collapsing?
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By Neon on September 24, 2009 at 02:44 pm

It was The RoundUp.

Most television commercials leave you: (a) talking back to the TV and (b) wondering about the general level of intelligence of your fellow citizens. This, of course, is not news. But it does at least provide fodder for those like me, engaged as we are in relentless weekly searches for fun things to skewer.

My favorite ad of the summer so far is the one where the two burly next-door neighbors meet in a face-off on the front sidewalk, about 20 feet apart. One burly dude is packing a bottle of RoundUp weed-killer, the other is burdened with the inferior spray herbicide from Acme. At each burly dude’s feet is one medium-sized weed, growing through a crack in the sidewalk. As the frenzied, vigilante music builds to its melodramatic climax, each burly dude blasts his target, and--no surprise here--the RoundUp blastee dies a quicker, more shrivelly, perhaps even agonizing death in just a few hours.

Now, sure, these two slobs can’t be expected to act like Mensa candidates here, since, after all, they are paid lackeys pushing domestic poison, and as such, are slaves to the director and scriptwriters. That’s fine and understood. The image that assails my mind is that of the millions of wanna-be macho slobs out there in TV land who see this ad and think, “Aha! The virile new way to kill weeds! I’ll pick up some RoundUp on my next trip to Big Mart and kill all weeds from this day on with a barrage of deadly squirting!” These gents predictably let those thoughts slide into fantasies of weed-free sidewalks, inspiring lusty pool parties among tank-topped coeds.

One wonders if any of these RoundUp guys would, just for a minute, interrupt his psychotic musings to consider the possibility that, instead of showering his dastardly weed with a spray of corporate slime that does its job in hundreds of minutes, he might instead get up off the sofa (a bit of a struggle, considering the tenacious sinkhole that his body has crushed into the cushions), walk out to the sidewalk, and assume a standing position directly above the weed. Then, bending at the waist, comfortably flexing his knees so as to not strain the muscles of the lower back, he would grip the offending weed at its vulnerable, leafy base with the first three fingers of his dominant hand. At this crucial point comes the moment of truth: pulling upward with a firm, steady motion, he would completely uproot the offending flora, instantly rendering it lame, harmless fodder destined for the nearest trash container. And in approximately one one-trillionth of the time it would take the RoundUp to do its job.

Of course, “pulling” the weed, as it used to be called, would involve actually touching the plant itself, and, I don’t know, that just may be an extremely uncool thing to do here in the new millennium.

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