A Nature special on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) just ended, and not on an encouraging note. Seems a multiplicity of factors are causing the problem, not just the Israeli virus, new pesticides, or predator mites. The cell-phone theory has been thoroughly debunked (originally thought to interfere with the bees internal navigation), which surely disappoints hardcore Luddites.
I admire, respect, and have a great deal of affection for bees. Like ants, I respect their industriousness, and their willingness to lay down their individual life for the good of the colony (sick bees will leave the hive to protect it from infection). I’ve often thought beekeeping would be a fun and tasty hobby.
CCD has gotten so bad farmers in certain parts of China are now forced to pollinate by hand. It’s estimated similar necessity in the U.S. would cost an extra $90 billion annually, and cause famine and a global food crisis. At the current rate of collapse, we could see this become a reality by 2030.
Some of the scientists on the special quite rightly pointed out this crisis trumps global warming. In my book, alongside the contamination of the oceans and food chains by plastics (a topic for a future post), CCD ranks as the most serious environmental issue facing humanity today. It’s tragic so much attention, funding, and effort has been hijacked away by “global warming”.