Bees Needs — Pollinate Thyself

February 8, 2011

As climate change continues its unchecked advance upon the deep-blue planet, disrupting everything we now consider, all kinds of weird and ominous shit are coming to dangerous, life-threatening surface.

And like a lot of other stuff, a small thing can create a humongous problem.
A pure case in point: Honey bees and “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).”
This a major food stuff disrupter: “They are so integrated into so many different markets that I imagine there would be all kinds of collapses,” said May Berenbaum, who was chair of the NAS committee that developed the pollinator report. “To illustrate how pervasive the honey bee is, consider a Big Mac,” she said. “All beef patties, the pickles, onions, lettuce, the cheese, the sesame seeds on the bun — that’s a lot.”
Choke a horse.

(Illustration found here).

Although corn, wheat, and rice are all seeded by wind currents (via UK’s the Telegraph on Sunday):

However, animal pollination is essential for nuts, melons and berries, and plays varying roles in citrus fruits, apples, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, courgettes, peppers, aubergines, avocados, cucumbers, coconuts, tomatoes and broad beans, as well as coffee and cocoa.
This is the fastest growing and most valuable part of the global farm economy. Between 80pc and 90pc of pollination comes from domesticated honey bees. Moths and butterflies lack the range to penetrate large fields.
The reservoir of bees is dwindling to the point where ratios are dangerously out of kilter, with the US reaching the “most extreme” imbalance.
Pollinated crop output has quadrupled since 1961, yet bee colonies have halved.
The bee-per-hectare count has fallen nearly 90pc.
“Farmers have managed to produce with relatively fewer bee colonies up to this point, and there is no evidence of agricultural yields being affected.
The question is how much further this situation can be stretched,” said the report.

A lot of reasons for CCD have been put forth, including urbanization, disease, water pollution and parasitic mites, but since the phenomenon was first reported six years ago, no bottom-line cause has been found, and may never.
A new study — from the US Department of Agriculture’s Bee Research Laboratory — although completed for two years and just now reported, but yet to be published, suggests nicotine is the culprit.
These neonicotinoid insecticides — relatively new compounds which mimic the insect-killing properties of nicotine, and which are increasingly used on crops in the US, Britain and around the world — and the banning of these types of shit would be a big-time money loser.
From the Independent:

Bayer, the German chemicals giant which developed the insecticides and makes most of them, insists that they are safe for bees if used properly, but they have already been widely linked to bee mortality.
The US findings raise questions about the substance used in the bee lab’s experiment, imidacloprid, which was Bayer’s top-selling insecticide in 2009, earning the company £510m.
The worry is that neonicotinoids, which are neurotoxins — that is, they attack the central nervous system — are also “systemic,” meaning they are taken up into every part of the plant which is treated with them, including the pollen and nectar.
This means that bees and other pollinating insects can absorb them and carry them back to their hives or nests – even if they are not the insecticide’s target species.

Add this to another infamous brick in the wall of a failing modern life.

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