I thought this situation had gone away.
I guess it hasn’t.
Nearly one in three commercial honeybee colonies in the United States died or disappeared last winter, an unsustainable decline that threatens the nation’s food supply.
Multiple factors — pesticides, fungicides, parasites, viruses and malnutrition — are believed to cause the losses, which were officially announced today by a consortium of academic researchers, beekeepers and Department of Agriculture scientists.
“We’re getting closer and closer to the point where we don’t have enough bees in this country to meet pollination demands,” said entomologist Dennis van Engelstorp of the University of Maryland, who led the survey documenting the declines.
“Many entomologists and pest management professionals have been saying for years that there is no pest management justification for using these insecticides on virtually every crop grown in North America,” said Agricultural entomologist Christian Krupke of Purdue University. “Yet, the opposite trend is occurring.”
The honeybee catastrophe could also signal problems in other pollinator species, such as bumblebees and butterflies, that are not often studied.
“Thinking of honeybees as our canary in the coal mine, a monitor for environmental conditions, is very appropriate,” said entomologist Diana Cox-Foster at Pennsylvania State University. “With honeybee colonies, you have the ability to open them up and see what’s going on. There are many other species needed for pollination, but with most of those, we don’t have the ability to see what’s happening.”
A year or two ago, I asked an entomologist friend of mine what he thought the reason was behind honeybee hive/colony collapse syndrome. He looked around, leaned in conspiratorially and whispered, “I think it’s the rapture… and the bees went first!” I love nerd humour! 🙂