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.


Blue Ibis said...

Hi "Seppel",

I am glad to hear that the bees seem to be normal in your area, but as you have noted there are many pollinators *all* of which seem to be in trouble. Here is an article with a broad overview of the issue that may interest you:

Blue Ibis

Seppel Simon said...

Hello "Blue Ibis",

Thanks for your comment and the link. I am very fortunate to live in a place where the impact on the environment of people and our industrialized society is still relatively small. It is a huge concern to me that pollinators (especially insects) are so threatened by the lifestyle most of us choose. I read E.O. Wilson in The Creation describe the devastation which will quickly ensue if insects were to disappear.

I would note that the quote on bees attributed to Albert Einstein on the website you sent me too is probably specious according to research done at snopes.com (http://www.snopes.com/quotes/einstein/bees.asp)

I am continually reassured at how the web helps us to maintain our credibility by promoting accuracy.