Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where Have All The Bees Gone?

WOWT News reports:
Honeybees are having a rough go of it. They're disappearing and that could prove to be costly.

It's a concern to agriculture because those bees pollinate more than 90-cultivated crops valued between $10 billion and $16 billion.

Jim Tuttle runs Company Bee. He's a third generation beekeeper and he says it's not unusual to see a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the numbers each year but this year is different. He has lost approximately 60 percent of his bees this year.

"I've met other beekeepers who've lost similar amounts," he says. "I was reading on the Internet where some Canadians have lost 80 percent and some are total wipeouts."

Canadian bee losses can be attributed to extreme cold. In Nebraska and Iowa it's more of a mystery. Some blame mites and other point to chemicals.

Tuttle says, "There are some chemicals that have been banned in other countries that we're still using and they cause the insect to forget how to come back to their nest."

Fewer bees will translate into higher prices for honey but that's just the start.

Tuttle says, "I do a little pollination for farmers and I didn't have enough to supply all the demand this year."

Since a good deal of our food source depends on bees, Tuttle says, "We definitely need the research now to get ahead of this; find out what this is and get ahead of it and try to get a handle."

There has been some speculation that cell phone traffic has been linked to the disappearing bee problem but we talked to several beekeepers and all agree that such speculation is groundless.