#661:The Emerging Global Pattern of Insect Pollinator Decline
In December 2006 a paper by Olle Johansson, “How Shall we Cope With the Increasing Amounts of AIrborne Radiation?” was published in the print Journal of the Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (www.acnem.org). This paper examines an increase in illness in the population of Sweden and the increasing background level of microwave radiation as a result of new wireless technology. To quote in part from the paper:
So if a human population can be adversely affected by the introduction of a new microwave wave form in the environment is there a possibility that some other creatures may be affected as well? Consider the case of the decline of the honey bee. Perhaps their antennas are increasingly picking up confusing signals….
After you read the following article consider the importance of research that urgently needs to be done but unfortunately who would ever dare fund such ‘controversial’ research?
The Honey Bee Crisis of 2007
Escalating Honey Bee Decline Baffles Scientists
Â© Sally Morton
Feb 17, 2007
The honey bee crisis in the United States has been escalating for several years, rising to “unprecedented” levels of honey bee losses between Oct 2006 and Feb 2007.
The honey bee crisis of 2005, which was blamed on the Varoa mite, decimated as much as 50% of honey bee populations in the US, but was weathered, overcome, and quickly passed out of most people”s vocabulary. I wrote an article about it for Suite 101, which you can read here. In it, I gave a fruit, vegetable, nut and wild plant list dependent upon insect pollination.
Approximately 80% of all insect pollination is accomplished by honey bees. According to the University of California at Davis publication “Don”t Underestimate the Value of Honey Bees,” the remaining 20% of other insect pollinators are drastically reduced in number as well, making one wonder if the problem is the varoa mite or something else affecting the broader insect world.
Honey Bee Pollination plays major role in Global Food Supply
The year 2006 passed seemingly without incident relating to honey bees and I breathed a sigh of relief. Why is it worrisome when bees die by the thousands? Three words: global food supply. The lowly honey bee is required for the pollination of a wide range of plants, affecting everything from clover (think cows) to fruits to vegetable seeds. Honey bee-pollinated crops represent more than $15 billion annually to the economy. That does not even take into consideration indirectly affected items, such as beef, milk, cheese, wild animals, or birds.
Fall of 2006 Reveals Decimated Bee Colonies
The problem is that 2006 did not pass without incident””it passed without media-reported incident. It was in the fall of 2006 when a distressed Pennsylvania beekeeper, Dave Hackenberg, reported to researchers at Pennsylvania State University that he had lost about 2,000 hives. To give you an idea of how many bees that is””each hive contains around 50,000 bees in summer. The mysterious bee ailment was dubbed “Colony Collapse Disorder.”
The last three months of 2006, beekeepers up and down the East Coast of the US were quietly reporting large bee losses. Alarm bells were ringing in the “beekeeper world.” By January of 2007, it had spread beyond the Eastern US and Western states were also reporting bee losses. As beekeepers in colder regions start reporting their bee colony status in spring, the figures are expected to rise even higher.
Escalating Bee Decline for More than a Decade
This week, I”ve learned that the honey bee crisis in the U.S. is back and its worse than ever. Or did it ever really leave? Two types of parasitic mites invaded the US””tracheal mites in 1984 and varroa mites in 1987. Bee populations have been steadily declining ever since.
2007 Honey Bee Crisis “Unprecedented”
In February of 2007, I read the first mainstream media article I”d seen on this year”s bee crisis, which said that beekeepers from 22 states so far have reported decimation of hives by as much as 80%, varying in degree of severity.
As I set out to find more information from leading authorities in the industry, I decided the best people to ask were the bee experts at the American Bee Federation. When I first clicked on their website”s homepage, I was greeted with this quote from a January 2007 Penn State press release:
“An alarming die-off of honey bees has beekeepers fighting for commercial survival and crop growers wondering whether bees will be available to pollinate their crops this spring and summer”¦” The losses were called “unprecedented” by Penn State Agriculture Extension Associate, Mary Ann Frazier.
Cause of Colony Collapse Disorder Eludes Investigators
Although the honey bee crisis of 2005 was attributed to the varoa mite, the 2006-2007 malady is of unknown origin. Researchers have been unable to isolate a common cause. While they have found numerous disease organisms present in dying bee populations, along with a few common management issues, the common link affecting all the populations continues to elude investigators. Dennis vanEngelsdorp, acting state apiarist with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture said, “Preliminary work has identified several likely factors that could be causing or contributing to CCD. Among them are mites and associated diseases, some unknown pathogenic disease and pesticide contamination or poisoning.”
University and federal researchers, state regulatory officials, cooperative extension educators, and industry representatives have joined together to research the current bee crisis. The beekeeping industry, including the American Beekeeping Federation, The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, and the National Honey Board are all actively engaged in the effort.
The Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium (MAAREC) is “a regional effort to address the pest management crisis facing the beekeeping industry in the Mid-Atlantic Region.” According to MAAREC, its mandate is: “Exploring the cause or causes of honey bee colony collapse and finding appropriate strategies to reduce colony loss in the future.”
Emerging Global Pattern of Insect Pollinator Decline
It”s hard for many to imagine how something as small and pesky as a honey bee could play such an important role in global food supply, but it does. Since the decline of insect pollinators fits into an emerging global pattern of insect pollinator decline, shouldn’t the current US honey bee crisis be investigated from a wider world view?Leave a reply →