Last night we attended our monthly beekeepers meeting and as always, it was very enlightening. We watched a video called The Vanishing of the Bees, a documentary regarding Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). It was very informative. The documentary interviewed both commercial beekeepers as well as holistic beekeepers and even the typical, backyard beekeepers. One commercial beekeeper had 50,000 hives and within a matter of three weeks he lost 40,000 hives – about 90% of his hives. That’s astounding to me. At first the scientists believed it might be any of the typical bee diseases or pests causing CCD: varroa mites, trachea mites, etc. But, that’s not the case. They now believe that the true cause is due to the pesticides and chemicals used by commercial farming operations.
Did you know that the pesticides use became the norm after WWI or WWII (can’t remember which one). The Germans were the first to use chemical warfare and after the war, the same chemical manufacturers who provided the chemicals for the war, sold their chemicals as pesticides to help the German crops. So, what was once used to kill the enemy was later used to kill the bugs – and harming humans in the process.
Pesticides used to be applied topically by crop dusters. The chemical would land on the leaves, the bugs would nibble the leaves and perish. It was easier to spot a dangerous chemical (not sure there are any really safe chemicals) at that time because the bees would die almost immediately. However, large agri-businesses (aka Monsanto) are now creating seeds and pesticides that are within the seed itself. As the seed is planted and grows, the pesticide grows with the plant itself and as the bees pollinate the flowers, they are ingesting the chemicals and it’s resulting in bee deaths within a few months. It’s harder to pinpoint scientifically but beekeepers worldwide are blaming these pesticides (called Gaucho and Poncho) on CCD. France, Italy and a few other European countries have banned these chemicals on certain products (like corn, soy and cotton).
It’s quite frightening. I don’t mean to get political (although I do love to talk politics) but this is something that affects us so dearly. If the bees die at such a rapid rate, then that’s a reflection of something wrong with the environment in which they live. As a nation we used to grow multiple items at a time, now farmers focus on one crop at a time.
Buy organic. Grow your own. Do something – just don’t sit by and do nothing.