On the Honeybee Decline


Honey Bees are Stressed

They likely have been since they were imBees in Declineported here from Europe in the 1800s.  Maybe they were stressed since captured for various use by Egyptians.  After all, they’ve been introduced into alien environments for centuries.  Most species adapt over time, but an environment that changes too quickly becomes hostile.  The Honeybee decline is steady and rapid both here and around the globe since the late 1990s.  

Honeybees do their best work producing honey.  To produce honey, bees gather nectar and in the process, they pollinate.  Their ability to double-duty as both pollinators and honey producers made them highly valuable for their nifty bi-talents but in fact, they aren’t efficient pollinators.   Perhaps they didn’t like forced labor, or their new digs, or domestic life, because when they came to the US it didn’t take them long to go wild. 

Beekeepers in the meantime began transporting commercial colonies all over the US to pollinate fruit orchards but their colonies persisted in association with those wild honeybees (Bee Love).  By the ’60s, Honeybees were troubled by a fungus that caused “Foul Brood Disease”. 

With a little TLC and increased sanitary practices, this was stopped.  In the ’70s and ’80s something new reared its ugly head.  Soon parasitic mites were discovered to stress the bees, reducing their resistance to disease.  Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) became a regular issue and with their continued intermingling, soon mites jumped from one to the other.  

 Mites are not easy to treat on bees.  Bees won’t sit still to have their mites picked off like a Chimpanzee.  Plus, both mites and bees are arthropods and the treatment to rid one, rids the other.  

We’re now in the year 2016 and the decline has continued for well over a decade.  Pesticides and insecticides are easily blamed because of their prevalent use world-wide.  Yes, these chemicals can cause a variety of health issues. But not in every circumstance.

Meanwhile, EAB, Emerald Ash Borer is Discovered

The Emerald Ash Borer is destructing trees in epidemic proportions world-wide. Every Ash tree globally, if untreated, will die.  Melodramatic but true.  Then, a savior:  Imidacloprid, the possible solution to total destruction of an entire species of trees.  Because it’s now the most widely applied insecticide in the world, all eyes are on Imidacloprid.  

What about honeybees and borers? Even after banning in countries for half a decade; even in areas where pesticides have never been introduced.  The decline of the honeybee and native bees continues.  Some researchers think it may be phenological timing; the flowering of native plants occurring previous to the bee’s arrival to pollinate.  Could it be global climate change?

We know there are many reasons for CCD including viruses, fungal pathogens, mites and chemicals.  Heck, maybe it’s the jet engine fuel dropping from the sky.  Our world is changing.  Pollution charges onward and heck, look what lingers in the air.  If you don’t think one incident may affect the rest of the world with weather patterns drifting globally think about this:   Since 1954’s first nuclear reactor was constructed, there have been 99 accidents at nuclear power plants.  Some catastrophic, some not and 57 of those accidents occurred in the USA.  No kidding.   

Most of us know of Three Mile Island in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima Daiichi in 2011 but there have been 8 nuclear powered submarine core meltdowns since 1961, serious radiation and radiotherapy accidents from Costa Rica to Mexico City, India, Morocco and Thailand. These events are happening in our back yards on our planet, Earth.  We could talk about fracking, water pollution, and so many environmental concerns that it would make your head spin.  But you get the picture.

So what’s our solution to the Emerald Ash Borer?  Can we save the Ash Trees from EAB without harming the Bees?  Yes!  Fortunately, Imidacloprid is the best answer.  Ash tree pollen is not a food source for bees, plus ash tree flowers are wind pollinated hence, bees are not exposed directly to Imidacloprid treated trees. 

And how do we help the honeybee?  Educate yourself and use common sense.  Simple logic tells us that planting flowers that attract bees next to a treated tree isn’t wise because spray and soil drenches can easily be absorbed by plants (and therefore, the pollen of those plants) within close proximity.  Plant a butterfly garden, make your yard beautiful and if in doubt, ask. 

The decline of the honeybeeSo, honeybees are at least safe, for now, from this one chemical solution that is our only hope at present to save our Ash trees.