VISALIA, Calif., Feb. 23 — David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.
In 24 states throughout the country, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops, including California almonds, one of the nation’s most profitable.
“I have never seen anything like it,” Mr. Bradshaw, 50, said from an almond orchard here beginning to bloom. “Box after box after box are just empty. There’s nobody home.”
The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country.
Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.
Now, in a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and simply never returning to their colonies. And nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or simply disoriented and eventually falling victim to the cold.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Last July I noticed that there were far fewer butterflies in my garden than in previous years. If there is indeed a drop in the butterfly population it won't be to surprising that other insects might also be having problems. Whether it is climate change, the increasing use of genetically modified crops, toxics in the environment or a combination of causes, it seems obvious that these massive drops of insect populations is not good. Not good for them and if we want to continue eating food, not good for us. I think most people forget that food production requires large, healthy insect populations. We take so many things for granted, we assume so much and that's a mistake. Back to the bees, The New York Times reports on the vanishing honeybees: