Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Buzzing Concern

I've been up this morning, reading the news.

(Gasp! Choke! She's been doing what??)

Calm down folks. Yes, it's true that normally I avoid the news like the plague; the bits I get from my Yahoo! home page are generally enough to depress me the whole day. But this morning I clicked on my IE icon and a little blurb had me clicking, and clicking, and clicking some more.

The news? That the honeybees are dying. By the millions. And as yet, there are no answers.

I grew up on an apple farm. My dad also kept bees--it made sense. If you wanted a good crop, you kept a steady source of pollination nearby. I grew up with a healthy respect for the critters. I knew to steer clear of the hives when it was boiling hot and the bees were agitated, I helped my dad harvest the honeycombs and even placed a new queen in a hive once. I learned to make honey, learned to operate an extractor, learned to use a hot knife without burning my hands or wrecking the comb. I learned enough about bees in my childhood to truly appreciate what they give to the world, just by doing what they do day in and day out.

And this morning, reading about how in the US alone we've lost about 1/4 of our bee population due to what they're calling Colony Collapse, reading about the possible reasons (everything from infection to genetically altered crops to cell phone radiation), reading about the dire predictions of rising food prices--again--this year, I'm filled with a real sense of dread and loss.

I mean, think about it a minute. Because of honeybees, we enjoy fresh fruit, flowers, nuts, etc... Honeybees are responsible for at least 1/3 of the world's food supply. They aren't doing anything spectacular, just buzzing around from plant to plant, flower to flower, drinking here, leaving pollen there, trying to figure out why that two-legged creature is jumping and flailing in its presence. But their 'nothing spectacular' is guaranteeing life and productivity for us. If science can't get an answer, if the bees continue to die, it could turn catastrophic. Life as we know it could do a serious one-eighty.

I don't have any great pearls of wisdom to end this blog with. I don't have any answers. But I know this year I'll be watching my garden grow a little more closely. And I'll be counting the bees.


Robyn said...

Actually, there's a theory now that our cell phones may be responsible. The radiation from them can, in theory, disorient them to such an extent that they cannot find their way back to the hive; without nutrition they die.

I KNEW cell phones were evil.

spyscribbler said...

Wow, what we are doing to this planet is criminal. Geezuz. Do we not realize that we are killing our grandchildren? Our great-grandchildren? We have to live her. If the earth's not happy, we're not going to be happy.


Honey is supposed to help with allergies. Kids with allergies is on the rise, too.

Scotsman said...

Actually I read about this on Sunday too. It seems to be happening not just in the US but England and Europe and to a lesser extent in Scotland for some reason. Its only a matter of time when whatever the problem is starts to travel northwards. I hope they find a solution soon because I don't see how farmers will be able to manage to pollinate their crops in such good numbers without the help of bees. There are other insects that can pollinate crops but bees do a disproportionate amount of the work.
Its strange I was thinking of getting a hive myself this year, circumstances made me put it off until next year. Its not because I like honey to be honest I can't stand the stuff, although eating some locally made honey would be good for my hayfever (another good point overlooked that is the miracle of bees), but being a landscape gardener I have this romanticised notion of the interlinking of nature and I wanted to put something back...I just hope I'm not too late.