The Bear at Alert the Bear is good friends with Winnie the Pooh (old school Pooh, not the cheap imitation you see claiming to be PB today). First, Pooh is disenfranchised from the right to define his legacy by the good folks at Disney, and now he has to deal with missing honeybees due to Colony Collapse Disorder. The Bear is definitely on alert!
CCD has been covered by all of the major news organizations, but we, as consumers, don't seem to be alarmed. Supermarkets are still stocked with reasonably priced fruits. Bees are essential to the pollination of flowering vegetation. Nature supplies sufficient bee populations for this to occur without much trouble. Commercial agriculture, on the other hand, has been using commercial bee populations (that travel coast to coast, depending on the growing season) to pollinate. In fact, there are some producers that use pesticide to keep away native bees (e.g. seedless fruit products). I met a beekeeper, Erin Forbes of Overland Honey, this weekend, and she explained that among small beekeepers, they believe the problem to be, quite simply, tired and overworked bees. A story in today's LA Times somewhat agrees:
The only thing that all of the problem hives seem to have in common is that they were experiencing periods of "extraordinary stress" due to poor nutrition or drought.The good news in the article is that scientists and beekeepers don't seem to be as alarmed now as they have been in recent weeks. In fact, many commercial producers are reporting potentially record crops.
If the hives are already weakened, factors that otherwise might not be fatal could have disastrous effects.
The apiaries are telling us to ask some questions. We need to think more about how we get food to our table. How is commercial growing affecting the environment? How are pesticides and stressed animal and insect populations going to change the way we grow and raise food? How different will the food on the table be in ten or twenty years?
If all of this is too much to handle, I suggest spending some time with our friends in the Hundred Acre Wood.