Two quick blurbs found in recent magazines that may be of interest to beekeepers and nature lovers:
From National Wildlife magazine (www.nwf.org
) Oct/Nov 2008 p. 12
"A World Abuzz with Bees
In the first comprehensive, global census of bees in more than a century, scientists at New York's American Museum of Natural History have compiled information on more than 19,200 species. That's 2,000 more than were believed to exist only eight years ago. 'Most people know of honeybees and a few bumble bees,' says John Ascher, a zoologist at the museum who helped organize and classify the species list. 'We have documented that there are actually more species of bees than of birds and mammals put together.'"
And from Mother Earth News Oct/Nov 2008 p. 25
"The Buzz on Vanishing Bees
The future of America's food supply relies on a species that's under stress. Beginning in the winter of 2006, millions of honeybees started dying or vanishing. A strange epidemic, colony collapse disorder (CCD), is wiping out these vital pollinators and causing concerns for the fate of our food supply.
Chip Taylor, professor of insect ecology at the University of Kansas, and other experts say multiple forces are responsible for colony collapse disorder, including weakened immunity, pesticides, parasites and poor nutrition. Some research implicates a virus known as Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus. The good news is that the disorder does not appear to be as severe in backyard beehives, which are not stressed in the same way commercial hives are. The industrial agriculture system ships bee colonies around the country to serve various monocrops and growing seasons, which stresses the bees.
Because the tiny workhorses are responsible for pollinating one-third of U.S. crop species, honeybees account for many of the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fibers produced in the United States, with the value of their services exceeding $15 billion.
'Silence of the Bees,' a PBS Nature series episode, reveals the agriculture role of these amazing six-legged creatures. You can watch the full episode at www.pbs.org/wnet/nature
(search for 'bees'), along with an interview with expert Dennis van Engelsdorp.
Because 71 percent of all colony deaths can be attributed to non-CCD causes, according to van Engelsdorp, the stinging issue is general pollinator health. 'The effort to look at the impacts of pesticides has revealed a surprisingly large number of pesticides in pollen, wax and the bees themselves; some of these at high levels.' van Engelsdorp says. 'These pesticides are used in agriculture and sometimes by the beekeepers themselves. We have initiated investigations into the effects of pesticides, potential synergistic effects of multiple pesticides, the impact of pesticides in combination with other stress factors. as well as the use of irradiation to mitigate pesticide residues.'
- Katherine Loeck
If you keep bees at home, we'd love to hear from you regarding the health of your colonies. Share your experiences at www. MotherEarthNews.com/HoneybeeDecline.aspx"