Anthony Hopkins may have been able to take on the lambs, but it is still unclear how the world will deal with ‘The Silence of the Bees,’ according to a recent PBS broadcast with the same name. Unlike so many pest-thrillers where hoards of insects or arachnids invade our planet, we are faced with quite the opposite phenomenon—entire colonies of honeybees are simply disappearing from the agricultural scene. Not a big deal? Well, consider that 90% of the entire world’s supply of edible vegetation is pollinated by honeybees. Take the bee away and Mother Nature isn’t left with too many options.
Officially coined in 2006,Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has caused concern among agriculture experts. These disappearances are not restricted to the United States; several countries in Western and Southern Europe including, Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Greece are also finding their countryside devoid of the pollinating machine. Without the honeybee all of the listed countries could soon see their economy impacted due to lack of producing vegetation.
Each year the government charts more areas affected by CCD; it is presumed that over half the states have seen indication of CCD. Unfortunately, scientists are still unable to pinpoint exactly what is causing this phenomenon, although there are many speculations. Virtually all of the proposed causes for CCD to some degree are human-caused.
Pesticides: One of the most common predators of the honeybee is the wide assortment of pesticides currently on the market. The greatest offenders in the pesticide category are naonicotinoids, or, to be more particular, clothianidin. This pesticide is manufactured by Bayer Crop Science and is absorbed directly into all parts of the plant (roots, flower, stem, pollen, etc.). Shortly after its release onto the market, the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PENNA) noticed its harming effects on non-pest species and asked for immediate action. Their request was not granted and the product is still available in most areas. It is believed that once a bee has picked up this and other pesticides that an entire colony can become infected and become extremely vulnerable.
Foreign Predators: Globalization has increased information and made us more culturally diverse. It has also led to the easy migration of animals and pests to otherwise foreign countries. This has recently happened with the Asian mite. Picture your dog infested with ticks; this is the same concept except that this mite attacks the larvae of the honeybee and has been known to attack adults. Once attacked, larvae will die immediately and adults will suffer serious vulnerability to pesticides, diseases, etc.
Forced Migration: As a shortage of honeybees has become more apparent over the last 10 years, beekeepers have risen in status. Now those with an agriculture shortage are paying for beekeepers to bring out colonies in order to generate pollination. This is a completely foreign process to bees, and there are some in the science circle who believe that it may be seriously shortening the lifespan of the bee.
It is likely that CCD is caused by multiple factors, but the root of these factors seems to point toward us. And, unfortunately, we are the ones who will also have to come up with a solution when the remainder of the bee population is depleted.