The Vanishing Honeybee

I’ve been wondering and worrying about the vanishing honeybees. For quite a while, the earth’s bee population has been dwindling. In America, beekeepers have lost 30 percent of their hives in each of the past six winters (compared with 5 to 10 percent in previous years).

Scientists seem puzzled by the bees’ disappearance. I am uncomfortable when scientists are puzzled. If we don’t know the cause of problems like this, how are we to find the cure?

Complicating the mystery is the fact that the honeybees are just disappearing from their hives. Their bodies are never found.

Everyone’s first guess, of course, is that pesticides are to blame. With all that poison being spread around, it’s no wonder bees are disappearing. It’s a wonder mankind survives.

Also under suspicion are disease, parasites, poor nutrition – and even the stress of being trucked around to pollinate various orchards.

Now, it’s becoming clear that it is the pesticide explosion that’s robbing the world of its bees.

A new study suggests that a type of insecticide known as neoniotinoids  interferes with the bees’ nervous system. They become so confused they abandon their hives. This poison is used widely in America even though it’s banned in European countries.

It’s a scary situation.

I understand that one-third of the food in the United States depends on insect pollination, mostly by honeybees. Everything from apples and cherries to broccoli, pumpkins, and almonds depends on honeybees. What will we do to replace the bees when they’re gone?

Of course the chemical companies are denying any blame. Instead, their army of scientists and media hacks has been deployed to poke holes in the new study.

Isn’t that what they always do?

I remember as a child asking my dad whether it was safe for him to spray “Flit” around our bedroom to combat the malaria mosquitoes that plagued our Jamaican home. Armed with assurances from the spray manufacturer’s scientists, he informed me it was only dangerous to insects.

“Are you an insect?” he asked me.

I am not an insect but with the DDT “Flit” contained, it certainly wasn’t doing me any good. We know that now. We did not know it then. The “Flit” merchants made sure of that.

The world’s mighty chemical companies have the money to buy “scientific” research that protects their interests while putting large numbers of human beings at risk. And that’s what they do.

Click for more on the latest research.

Click for more on the mystery.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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