Where have all the bees gone?
As someone who is allergic to bee stings (among others) and constantly on the watch for bees, this year I have noticed that my garden has been almost bee-free for the past few months. In view of the fact that there are various bee-attracting plants in the garden, this is quite disturbing.
I have been keeping an eye on what's happening overseas, and the disappearance of bees, but should I now presume that the same thing is happening here in South Africa?
It was only recently that I was reading an article about an accident involving a truck that was carrying bees and it appears that our fate is similar to that of other countries, where bees have to be hauled around the country.
The honey bee population is decreasing dramatically over the last few years and this is very worrying for both beekeepers and farmers who know how critical bee pollination is for many crops. A number of theories have popped up as to why the honey bee population has declined, including: electromagnetic radiation, malnutrition, and climate change.
According to Wikipedia, Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term colony collapse disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006. Colony collapse is significant because many agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees.
European beekeepers observed similar phenomena in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, and initial reports have also come in from Switzerland and Germany, albeit to a lesser degree while the Northern Ireland Assembly received reports of a decline greater than 50% Possible cases of CCD have also been reported in Taiwan since April 2007.
The cause or causes of the syndrome are not yet understood. In 2007, some authorities attributed the problem to biotic factors such as mites and insect diseases. Other proposed causes include environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition, pesticides, and migratory beekeeping. More speculative possibilities have included both cell phone radiation and genetically modified (GM) crops with pest control characteristics. Relatively little attention has been given to the artificial selective breeding of bees for industrial use, the displacement of and stressors on wild bees, and the effect of artificial genetic homogeneity on increased predisposition and uniform susceptibility to disease.
Whatever the reason, this is one topic I will be keeping a close eye on in the future. Without our bees we cannot survive!