By Brigid Jackson
During a trip though the United States a few years ago I overheard this chilling quotation:
“If the bees disappear from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”
Once home, I began a flurry of research. This quote has been attributed to Einstein, the problem is that the famed physicist never said it. It was first written down about 40 years after his death in 1955. Nonetheless Colony Collapse Disorder has serious implications for plants, wildlife and yes – humans.
Research has indicated that Honeybees originated in Africa and are almost as old as flowering plants. They then spread into Europe in two ancient migrations. In the New World the introduction of the European Honeybee began in North America as early as 1622. In 1956 a subspecies from Africa was introduced into Brazil in an attempt to increase honey production. The descendants of these bees spread rapidly northward, hybridizing with and displaced the previous European honeybee resulting in the African Killer bee. The killer bee stopped its Northward migration in 1999 as the winters were too cold.
COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER (CCD)
CCD is characterized by complete absence of worker bees, with no build up of dead bees in or around the colonies. Some worker bees normally stay in the hive to look after the bee grubs in the brood. (Bees will not normally desert a hive until all the brood has hatched.) Food in the form of Honey and pollen is present in the hive, as well as the Queen and some drones. The remaining bees are reluctant to consume provided food. Other bees, who would normally rob the hive do not do so.
Little was understood and had the Scientists baffled. CCD was first reported in Northern America late 2006. European beekeepers observed a similar phenomenon in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, England, Slovenia and Germany. Cases have been reported in Taiwan, and India since April 2007. Losses of up to 80% have been reported. The theorized causes were environmental changes, malnutrition, mites, viruses, pesticides, EMFs – radiation from cellular phones and other man made devices and GMOs (genetically modified crops).
Many theorized causes have indeed had an impact on the bees, however 6 years later we have more proof than ever that GMOs are largely to blame for the demise of the bees.
GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS (GMOs)
Genetically modified, insect resistant crops are now used in forty percent of corn crops in the America. Research was conducted at the University of Jenna from 2001 to 2004. Researchers investigated the effects of pollen in GM maize crop called BT corn on bees. The study concluded that there was no evidence of a toxic effect on healthy honeybees. Then by sheer chance the bees used in the experiment were infested with a parasite, resulting in a significant decline in the bees that were fed the BT crop. According to studies the bacterial toxin may have altered the surface of the bees intestines, weakening them allowing the parasites to gain entry.
Beekeepers that have been the most badly affected have been close to maize, cotton, Soya beans, canola, sunflowers, apples, vines and pumpkins.
It is particularly difficult to evaluate pesticide contributions to CCD. The variety of pesticides being reported in areas reported with CCD makes it impossible to test for all the pesticides at once. Bee farmers are migratory, often transporting hives over long distances and exposing the colony to a variety of pesticides. The bees themselves put the nectar and honey into long-term storage, meaning there is a delay in feeding the contaminated provisions to the colony. Pesticides are more likely to enter the colony via pollen stores rather than the nectar. The nectar would kill the bee if it were toxic. Broods are fed nectar, while the workers eat honey. CCD hives have brood intact, so the bees must leave because the honey is toxic.
One recently published view is that the bees are falling victim to nicotine-based pesticides. All the affected hives as well as the soil would need to be tested
Bees are important pollinators especially in the Agriculture industry. It is estimated that one third of the human food supply depends on bee pollination. This has led to a vast industry in the Americas of migratory beekeepers so that the bees can be concentrated where pollination is needed. Pollination improves the yield and quality of the crop and seeds.
Honeybees participate in the sexual reproduction of plants, ensuring cross-pollination and genetic diversity. Plants are the major food source for animals and humans alike.
HOW MAN MANIPULATES BEES
In 1923 Rudolph Steiner in his lectures on Bees predicted the dire state of the Honeybee today. He said that in fifty to eighty years we would see the consequences of mechanizing the forces that had previously operated organically in the beehive. This includes breeding the Queen Bee artificially.
The following are the ways humans manipulate bee colonies:
• The raising of larvae in separate quarters and the random feeding of Royal jelly to produce queens then shipping them by post to keepers.
• Selection of bees for docility
• Re-Queening the hives after 1 or 2 years instead of the normal 5 to 6 years
• The grafting of Queens.
• Moving larva to artificial cups for transportation.
• Using chemical control agents for diseases and pests
• Providing ready-made combs in place of bee constructed combs.
• Supplying wax.
• Use of ventilators
• Use of Queen excluders to prevent eggs being laid in inconvenient areas of the hive.
• Moving hives over long distances
• Clipping of the Queen’s wings
• Agriculture monoculture wreaks havoc on the honeybee’s diet.
* Artificially feeding the bees during the Winter with High Fructose Corn syrup
CCD may seriously affect our food production, economies and our sustainability here on earth.
Bees are the true alchemists of nature and no other creature can protect or project the knowledge they do. Man does not know yet how to prepare honey or pollinate crops.
For more from Brigid see http://www.aristonorganic.wordpress.com