Wednesday, May 23, 2007

honeybees: colony collapse disorder

Viruses, fungal infections, suppressed immune systems, pesticides, herbicides, parasites – have they caused honeybees to lose their sense of direction? Why have they disappeared in such alarming numbers?

Some bee farmers have lost 90% of their hives. And usually there are no dead bees around the hives. They’re just gone.

I never knew before this crisis that farmers and orchard owners bring in truckloads of bees to fertilize their crops. I should have known, but I just never thought about how all our crops are fertilized.

Many of those bees are GONE! The effect on our food supply should be drastic! It is very alarming, and the scientists are only guessing what the cause is. They don’t know.

Yesterday I read this great column by Mark Morford in the San Francisco Gate, titled “Apocalypse Of The Honeybees: How poetically appropriate that the End of Humanity should come from such a tiny, sweet source.”

He writes, “. . . here's the bottom line: Regardless of whether or not we figure it out, Colony Collapse Disorder is merely one more of those charming warning signs, one of those increasingly frequent messages from the gods writ large across the sky of humanity's arrogance and merciless abuse of nature's integrity. Hell, it's an abuse we've engaged in for so long we don't even really think about it anymore. And therein lies our likely demise.”

On our little farm, we have our own honeybee hive in the hollow of a tree (drat I deleted those photos last year, they were bad, but they would have shown you!), so we’re hoping our own fruit trees will be fertilized.

Rauf tells me there are no bees in India. Women (small fingers) fertilize the crops. Did the same thing happen there? (Thank you, rauf, for the correction.) I miswrote that there are no bees in India. He was talking about "Vanilla, which was not grown in India until recently, and the bees to pollinate the flowers are not found here, it is manually done by farm hands specially ladies, as it is a delicate process."


Ginnie said...

I did not know anything about this, Ruth, but it doesn't surprise me.

I find it very "synchronizing" that you and I both blogged about the ecology today!

Rauf said...

Ruth, i was telling you about Vanilla, which was not grown in India until recently, and the bees to pollinate the flowers are not found here, it is manually done by farm hands specially ladies, as it is a delicate process. Rest of the bees are here but they too have gone erratic, my niece's husband who is an agriculture research scholar told me. they are puzzled.
He doesn't read my blog, he is very religious person.

Ruth said...

Ginnie, maybe because you have been back and forth to Europe every few weeks you missed this. It is a huge problem.

Ruth said...

rauf, I have corrected the text. Thank you so much, and I'm sorry I remembered wrong. I hope your niece's husband can help solve this crisis. He should start reading your blog and get inspired for new directions.

photowannabe said...

Very interesting info on the bees. I hope they will make a comeback or we are in for some difficult times.
Nice pictures Ruth.

Ruth said...

Photowannabe, it is terribly serious. I am really wondering what the summer will be like. I have a feeling gasoline won't be the only price going up.

So Hum said...

Fascinating! We have a lovely family of carpenter bees living in our porch. I don't have the heart to destroy them. They are huge, black and can be very aggressive as far as swarming into your personal space to try to scare you- but, word has it they can't sting! They just carve out nests in the woodwork and sometimes under ground.

Ruth said...

Rachel, it's fascinating, and very scary! I don't know what's going to happen.

Sandy said...

What an interesting thread/post. I didn't know that women help the process there..

Ruth said...

Sandy, I know, it's quite remarkable really!