Monday, September 8, 2008

Where have the bees gone?

It has been a year or two since the media let the story out on the bees disappearing mysteriously from the farms in alarming numbers.

Recently, the real story start to emerge on the same pages of the newspapers. On Tuesday, August 19, 2008 San Francisco Chronicle writer Jane Kay reported that The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a suit against The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, claiming The Agency is refusing to disclose records about a new class of pesticides that could be playing a role in the disappearance of millions of honeybees in the United States.

The article continued to report that;

“In the last two years, beekeepers have reported unexplained losses of hives - 30percent and upward - leading to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder. Scientists believe that the decline in bees is linked to an onslaught of pesticides, mites, parasites and viruses, as well as a loss of habitat and food.”

Of course, the situation is not concluded on the rising honey prices. As we know, the honey is not the main thing bees achieve...

SF Chronicle article continued;

“Bees pollinate about one-third of the human diet, $15 billion worth of U.S. crops, including almonds in California, blueberries in Maine, cucumbers in North Carolina and 85 other commercial crops, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Not finding a cause of the collapse could prove costly, scientists warn.”

As the article states, the real alarm is about the pollination.

So what is causing all this? A pesticide, article continued,

Clothianidin is the pesticide at the center of controversy. It is used to coat corn, sugar beet and sorghum seeds and is part of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The pesticide was blamed for bee deaths in France and Germany, which also is dealing with a colony collapse. Those two countries have suspended its use until further study. An EPA fact sheet from 2003 says clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other pollinators, through residues in nectar and pollen. The EPA granted conditional registration for clothianidin in 2003 and at the same time required that Bayer CropScience submit studies on chronic exposure to honeybees, including a complete worker bee lifecycle study as well as an evaluation of exposure and effects to the queen, the group said. The queen, necessary for a colony, lives a few years; the workers live only six weeks, but there is no honey without them.”

Article goes on to detail defensive EPA and pesticide company and finally lands on the below sentence where I start mine.

“Honeybees, which pollinate everything from almonds to apples to avocados, began abandoning their colonies in 2006, destroying about a third of their hives.”

I have noticed an increasing number of wasps (not necessarily a honeybee) in my own environment which is in the middle of an urban situation a block away from a major street and within a half mile from couple of very busy freeways. Not necessarily, you would think a thriving beehive business would be located.
Several wasp colonies growing under my own home’s roof overhangs, and over the garage door awning of my office only two miles away.
This is not the extension of the growing bee colonies of course, after all, there have always been bees around.
Though, what got my attention, wasn’t the colonies I have seen in my house and office.
I have also start to encounter bees and wasps in places I go to and friends’ places I visit. And my theory start to shape.

I decided to call Terminix extermination Co. and talked to an expert. As expected, they have recorded some increase in urban areas calling for termination of unwanted bees.
I then contacted a company called The Bee Specialist and talked to Ron "the Bee Guy" O'brien who removes bees from residential and commercial properties in Los Angeles area.
According to Mr. O’brien, a bee specialist with the company, there has been an increase on live bee removals but he attributes that to awareness of people regarding bee disappearances, which have been reported in recent years.

So, be prepared to modify your wardrobe soon.

Where have the bees gone? They might have moved to inner cities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting point.
Perhaps as the rural/agricultural areas become unihabitable to the bees (particulularly as a result of this new pesticide) they are moving to the cities as a retreat to a more "natural" state.
It seems ironic but perhaps the urban greenspaces of backyards, parks and other terrain vague are really just the sort of home they are looking for. they may have smog but at least no Clothianidin ...