Implications Of The Disappearing Honey Bees
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Posted: Saturday, December 13, 2008
by Joel Hendon
Entomologists and others who study such things tell us that the honey bees who furnish us with all that delicious concoction which is good over buttered toast or in so many recipes, are declining in number. Where are they going? They are not sure yet but have ventured a number of possible reasons. Many of their ideas are far fetched and others have little evidence to make them suspect. My personal opinion, being an authority on nothing, is that it has been caused by the wide use of pesticides.
After the war was over, the chemical was made available for agricultural use and manufacturers were overwhelmed with orders. It truly did put an end to many very troublesome insects. I don't believe any became extinct but the ones which were so plentiful were drastically reduced. Bed bugs (Chinches), Roaches, common houseflies, fleas, ticks and many others were brought under control in short order.
But the popularity of DDT was to be short lived. Within less than twenty years, it was discovered to be harmful to the environment and endangering various creatures such as birds who were eating the poisoned insects, runoff into waterways was killing fish, and much more. This led to restrictions and finally to an almost total ban in 1972. It is allowed in only few cases where it is unlikely to harm other creatures. It is still used in some countries to fight spreaders of disease such as mosquitoes.
But after DDT became strictly controlled, more pesticides became available, less potent and less hazardous than DDT but nevertheless, killers of insects. They are widely used by farmers, even aerial spraying. I'm no authority on agricultural pesticide sprays, but it seems to me that the little marvel creature, the honey bee, would be especially susceptible to any of those pesticides that would be poisonous to them. They go from blossom to blossom indiscriminately.
But there is a down side and an up side to this seeming dilemma. The experts tell us it is too soon to worry. If the honey bees were to become extinct, not much would occur, they say, other than the loss of honey. That is bad enough, but there is their pollinating value. I am told that there are 20,000 species of bees in the world and many thousand more species of pollinating insects. The bees of our subject here are those known as the European honey bee and supposedly, they account for about 30% of our agricultural pollination. That in itself is almost one third and could mean a terrible loss in our productivity, I think.
But perhaps, the most encouraging of the current data is that the experts do not think the failing of some of these hives of bees is necessarily a sign of things to come. They believe rather, that it is careless or neglect of some of the apiaries in housing the bees. Let's hope that is the reason and not my uneducated, uninformed opinion.
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