OK. So honey has become a staple in my life as I have gotten older. Recently, I started hearing talk about crazy things happening with bees.
Now I am a child of the X-Files generation, so my first thought of bees immediately moved to the fact that the Africanized "Killer" Bee had taken over as, again if you watched the X-Files, you know that these bees were going to kill us all if we didn't watch out. There was even a ridiculous TV movie called "Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare" -- sometimes Lifetime Network really comes up with some gems.
I share the above only to point out that I think bees have gotten a bit of a bad rep that has only allowed what I have now figured out is a pretty serious situation to grow exponentially over the last years.
The epidemic, and it really is an epidemic is called COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER or CCD. When I started reading about the disorder itself... I have to say the description sounds a bit like a case for the X-Files. CCD is has been occurring since 1971 and after years of not being a real focus, it has now become a crisis of sorts. It occurs when worker bees from a beehive or "western honey bee" colony simply and abruptly disappear. Seriously, one day you go outside and you have a veritable swarm of bees doing their thing. Then the next day, you get up to tend to the bees and... GONE. Literally, completely dispersed. Completely disappeared. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the years of beekeeping for the purposes of production, the term CCD was really brought to the forefront in 2006 when the cases in the USA jumped by a heavy percentage and European beekeepers across the EUs most honey rich areas observed a similar phenomena.
The scary thing... although there have been clear concerns about this downward spiral since 1971, the reality of it is, we still do not fully understand why this is happening.
Leading "big brains" believe it is a mix of insect diseases, environmental changes (i.e. global warming, deforestation, lack of pollinate-able flowers), malnutrition and pesticides. No one can agree on any one of these factors, it seems, because there is a great case that all of them are contributors.
Think this doesn't impact you? Hate bees because you are allergic and don't really care that much if they disappeared entirely? Let's take a moment and talk about why you should care.
Well, first off, I hope you don't like almonds either. The phenomenon is particularly important for crops such as almond growing in California, where honey bees are the predominant pollinator and the crop value in 2006 was $1.5 billion.
In 2000, the total U.S. crop value that was wholly dependent on honey bee pollination was estimated to exceed $15 billion. Think about that in terms of our rough economic times. Our economy is in the toilet and if the bees disappear entirely, go ahead and carve off another $15 billion. Do we really want to be in the position where we have to offer agribusiness a bailout because we allowed one of the largest free labor forces in the world - pollinating honey bees - to die off?
Honey bees are not native to the Americas, therefore their necessity as pollinators in the US is limited to strictly agricultural/ornamental uses.
They are responsible for pollination of approximately one third of the United States' crops, including almonds, peaches, soybeans, apples cherries, watermelon, every type of berry you can imagine, pears and many other things that I care not to list right now. Just realize it's a lot more than you think.
I am still learning what each of us can do on our own to make a difference... but in the meantime, I am trying to get the word out and the first way we do that is to talk about it.
I came here ready to make my own EP group and was excited to see that there was already one in existence.
I am late to the party... but I am bringing friends!