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Monday, June 30, 2008

Disappearing Bees

I had to laugh when I watched Dr Who last Saturday and they mentioned the problem of the bees going. Following the bees helped them.
One of the more outlandish suggestions for Colony Collapse Disorder is alien abduction. One inspection there are there, and the next, the colony is empty with the few remaining bees having all sorts of diseases.
However, they just do not know the cause. Other theories include giving far too much fructose, a new parasite, moving colonies about too much, requeen with foreign queens etc etc. The vast majority of CCD has happened to commercial bee farmers who move the bees about following the seasons. Because these tend to be large producers, the loss of 90% of their bees shows up far more quickly. If the problem was confined to hobby beekeepers, it would not have shown up as quickly. Commerical beekeepers though are responsible for most of the pollination of the major fruiting crops. They move bees with the seasons and the crops. from blueberries in Maine to peach orchards in Georgia.
The US congress has just allocated $10 million for research. I believe the British government cut funding. Certainly the British Beekeepers Association are trying to raise awareness of the problems.
The major problem is without bees there is little to no pollination. Modern farming methods of fruit and nut crops can not exist without the humble bee. Yields would collapse.
On a happier note: my bees are doing well. Thus far, I have avoided swarming. I suspect it is due to having the right sort of Queen excluder and enticing the bees up into the supers by allowing the queen to lay for a little while before shaking her down and putting on the excluder. It could also be dumb luck. But we used to suffer greatly from honey clogging in the brood nest.
They appear to be busy and I am hoping for a good harvest of honey this year.
I must get around to making more candles as a load of wax from last year still needs to be processed.
The papers have been full of the New Survivalists (actually they simply look like smallholders). But I would point out that bees are good for the environment, provide honey and wax for candles. The only problem is that they are a hobby with a sting.
But it is good that people are noticing that bees are disappearing. I only hope that they discover the cause before it is too late as somehow I do not think we can rely on Dr Who to fix this problem. But I was pleased the problem got a mention in the programme.

2 comments:

Kate Hardy said...

Mmm, I had a "that's too close to the bone" moment in that episode.

Pleased to report that if anything we seem to have more bees around here at the moment - they seem to like the hebe by our front door.

Michelle Styles said...

Yes, the episode was a bit close to the bone. And of course, given that so many children watch it, the ending was guaranteed to have nightmares.