The Declining Honey Bee

Last week, I bought some honey directly from a beekeeper at Bobcaygeon, Ontario. During our visit, beekeeper, Jerry Jerrard, graciously gave us a fascinating tour of his operation as well as a sobering synopsis of the beekeeping industry.

He told us that over a typical winter, beekeepers will lose 5 to 6% of their bees, mainly due to mites and starvation. This past winter, however, Jerry lost 70% of his bees. He told us that beekeepers all over the country lost between 50 & 70% of their bees. The primary culprit, pesticides.

New, more deadly pesticides are being used, and they are having a devastating affect on all bees, not just honey bees. The pesticides kill bees outright, or compromise their immune systems, making them more vulnerable to mites.

Bayer, a German-based manufacturer has been specifically implicated in the decline of bees.  Bayer produces a pesticide called, clothianidin, which is thought to be particularly toxic to bees. German researches found heavy concentrations of this pesticide in the dead bees they examined.

Jerry also said that genetically modified foods are also a major problem. Farmers throughout North America, for example, are growing genetically modified corn. This corn produces a poison that kills the corn borer. The poison also kills bees. In 2008, an article published by Global Research also cited genetically modified organisms (GMO) as a significant culprit in the decline of bees.

Disappearing habitat is also a critical factor in the loss of bees.

Declining honey bee populations observed in North America and Europe is now a global phenomenon, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) issued in March 2011. Bee populations are also declining in Japan, China and Egypt.

Jerry told us that Albert Einstein stated that if bees were to disappear from the planet, humans wouldn’t last more than four years. Bees are responsible for much of the pollination that occurs…in North America, domestic honey bees account for over 30% of the pollination…and without the bees to pollinate, plants and trees would simply die off.

Declining honey bee populations is simply one of many indicators of the crisis we are now facing. In Indonesia, the orangutan population has shrunk dramatically, from over 350,000 twenty years ago, to less than 50,000 today. Poaching and habitat disappearance are the primary causes.

We cannot continue to ignore what is going on around us. The CBC recently reported that a global study has shown that the world’s oceans are in far worse shape than previously thought. Pollution, global warming and overfishing are thought to be the primary culprits for this decline.

It is up to each of us to become informed of what is happening on our planet and to lobby governments and boycott companies that are producing pesticides and foods, such as corn, that are genetically modified. Our health and survival depend on it.

Lets make some noise.

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