Tuesday, April 24, 2007
04.21.07 BEE CRISIS?
The news on the street, "Cell phones are killing the bees!" Yet I am reassured to see this busy honey bee, Apis mellifera, working the blossoms of my apple tree. The New York Times has reported that the commercial bee industry, especially crop pollinating companies in California, are experiencing a dramatic drop in their bee populations. The causes could be multiple, and most seem to stem from the industrialization of America. But watching this bee work my tree amid the buzz of dozens of insects, many not honeybees at all, reminds me that the pollination of plants is a far more complicated business than we may think.
As a footnote, this evening I discover in the current National Geographic that our wild honey bee is the European honey bee and it is a new arrival to North America. Before the early colonists brought their honey bees from home, America depended solely on a native set of insects for pollination.