In a recent edition of his show “Real Time with Bill Maher”, the usually snide and wise-cracking political comedian addressed the recent disappearence of bees as a very serious issue. His opening line was “Albert Einstein said that if bees disappeared from the face of the earth, mankind would have only 4 years to live.” Einstein may not have been a beekeeper, but here is what that remark was based on – most of the world’s crops are dependent on bees for pollination. As bees visit from plant to plant, they carry pollen which fertilizes the plants. There is currently no artificial way to accomplish pollination.
This means no bees, no plants. Imagine the impact up and down the food chain of the absence of plant food.
According to the U.K. Independent, “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive’s inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.”
It was also reported that “The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.
CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London’s biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.
Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: “There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK.””
Why are the bees disappearing? One theory is that signals from cell phones interfere with bee’s navigation systems.
One study at Landau University in Germany has even shown that bees refuse to return to a hive when cell phones are near.
Would you be willing to give up your cell phone if your life was at stake? I would, in a heartbeat.
photo credit Zach’s Bee Photos