Earlier this month St. Louis held the Honeybee Health Summit, an initiative which is trying to focus attention on the dire situation of diminishing honeybees populations all over the world. The bee disappearance has been going on for years, but seeped into the mainstream media around 2006. Now in 2013 the issue gets hardly a mention in the mainstream media, yet the effects of what is now known as Colony Collaspe Disorder can be as profound as the effects felt from climate change.
One reason being that the bee industry is a multi billion dollar one that is woven into the world economy and our ability to produce food. According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Bees serve an intricate part in the production of food all over the world, roughly 33% of the worlds food sources stem from pollination, and bees are responsible for 80% of that number.
The other reason being that the causes for the drop in the honeybee population, is a telling sign of the damage that pesticides and genetically modified foods can cause if there has been a gross miscalculation on the part of humans in their attempts at ‘designing’ nature.
The honeybee population has been declining for years, and recent statistics show that in the last couple of years, the rate has increased to a disturbing 30% decline year after year.
First reported around 2004, beekeepers all over the world have reported the similar experience of going out to their hives only to see an abandoned queen bee that had starved to death, or barley surviving. The majority of the hive are no where to be found, they are not found dead in the fields surrounding the hive, they are simply just not found.
One of the the first reported signs of missing bees was from beekeeper Dave Hackenberg who had brought his bees to pollinate a crop when…
“I came to pick up 400 bee colonies and the bees had just flat-out disappeared,” Hackenberg said. “There were no dead bees, no bees on the ground, just empty boxes.””In almost 50 years as a beekeeper, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
As of now there have been many explanations given for sudden disappearance of the honeybees, ranging from diet, and cell phone towers, to parasites and pesticides. The two main culprits have been narrowed down to the latter of the explanations. Parasites and pesticides have become the narrowed focus for researchers in trying to find the antidote for CCD.
The two theories were also at the heart of a controversial divide that existed at the recent Bee Summit earlier this month. The two parties divided were the beekeepers and large biotech corporations, like Bayer, Syngenta, Dupont, and Monsanto. Many of the beekeepers feel that the corporations cause for interest in disproving pesticides as the culprit are rather nefarious, and in line with a history of maintaining the ‘bottom-line’ over what is good for people and nature. So when Monsanto announced this past Thursday, June 27th, that they would be forming a ‘Honey Bee Advisory Council,’ it was met naturally with skepticism. Here is a quote from a hired bee expert representing Monsanto, as reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch,
“The goal in my mind was pretty simple,” said Jerry Hayes, a veteran bee expert who leads Monsanto’s bee research efforts. “To connect the beekeeping industry more closely to Monsanto, and to connect Monsanto more closely to the beekeeping industry. They’ve heard all the big scary stuff about the company. We want to raise their comfort level.”
Monsanto and the other companies maintain that the culprit in this case is the varroa mite a parasite that attacks honeybees causing a disease called varratosis. Yet there is a growing amount of science to suggest that although the varroa mite is a real threat, the overwhelming threat to the honeybees is the use of pesticides, which are made by these companies and are designed to boost yields in crop supplies.
In fact, the pesticide have been narrowed down to a group known as neonicotinoids, as reported by Carey Gillam of Reuters.
“A study published last year by scientist at Purdue University in Indiana found evidence that planting the coated corn generates dust that contains very high levels of the neon’s that can move beyond the fields where the seeds are planted. The researchers said they found the poison in the soil as well and in pollen collected by bees as food. The neoics were present on dead bees collected for the study.”
Despite information to the contrary, Monsanto insists the culprit is the vora mite, and if they can prove it then they will use gene therapy to create a genetically engineered ‘super bee’. This bee will be given a solution to ingest that would in turn, ‘turn off’ the gene that transmits viruses in the varroa mites.
Whenever a biochemical company like Monsanto, Dupont, Bayer etc., attempt to genetically modify any type of organism, they are putting their hand in a natural process that takes millions of years to hone. Every organism that exists on this planet, does so as a result of a symbiotic relationship with another organism, and that organism with another, and so on. The honey bee evolved over 100 million years ago, in parallel with flowering plants, exactly the reason why honey bees are responsible for so many crops, fruits and vegetables grown around the world. Any miscalculation by humans could have catastrophic effects on the worlds ecosystem and food supply. Perhaps for a better explanation, former Secretary of Defense and chairman of Gilead Sciences, Donald Rumsfeld could put the risks involved in a clearer perspective.
“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.”