February 19, 2014: Bee colony collapse viruses spreading to bumblebees July 7, 2013: Elmwood, Ontario apiarist devastated at sudden loss of more than 600 hives (that's more than 37 million bees) May 21, 2013: Monsanto, Bayer, Sygenta Fund Bee Research May 14, 2013: Italian Pesticide Ban Improves Bee Colony Health April 30, 2013: Researchers find high-fructose corn syrup may be tied to worldwide collapse of bee colonies June 1, 2012: France to Ban a Pesticide in Effort to Protect Bees May 20, 2012: Bayer CropScience and Bee Deaths May. 16, 2012: 90 Percent of Corn Seeds Are Coated With Bayer's Bee-Decimating Pesticide May, 2012: Beekeepers Win Ban on Monsanto's GMOs in Poland April 19, 2012: Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm April 05, 2012: Researchers recreate bee collapse with pesticide-laced corn syrup March 29, 2012: Studies show how pesticides make bees lose their way January 25, 2012: The Buzz Behind the Monsanto/Beeolgics Acquisition June 17, 2011: Honeybees Might Have Emotions May 12, 2011: Honey prices at record levels 2006-2012: Unit Honey Prices by Month - Retail April 4, 2011: Honeybees 'entomb' hives to protect against pesticides, say scientists December 10, 2010Wik-Bee Leaks: EPA Document Shows It Knowingly Allowed Pesticide That Kills Honey Bees December 10, 2010 : Leaked Memo Sheds Light on Mysterious Bee Die-Offs and Who's to Blame October 25, 2010: Complex mathematical problem solved by bees October 8, 2010: What a scientist didn't tell the New York Times about his study on bee deaths November 29, 2007: EPA Is Sued by 12 States Over Reports on Chemicals 2006: EPA Library Closings Limit Researchers’ Access to Information
CCD, Why the Bees are Dying
The positive side of Colony Collapse Disorder: The Gaia Principle
All living organisms have self-preservation defense mechanisms to protect themselves from harm. Whether an organism survives an attack or contamination depends on its ability to contain or destroy an outbreak or infection.
According to the Gaia principle, all “living and nonliving parts of the Earth are viewed as a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism.” In essence the Gaia hypothesis states that the Earth is alive, implying that it also has a self-defense mechanism to protect itself from harm. If we take this into consideration, then it may shed some light onto the reasons as to why the honeybees are dying across the globe, and what we can do about it.
“In the winter of 2006, a strange phenomenon fell upon honeybee hives” across the United States. “Without a trace, millions of bees vanished from their hives…The epidemic set researchers scrambling to discover why honeybees were dying in record numbers.”
“Four main categories stand in the foreground of the disappearing honeybee issue: EMF radiation; GM crops; diseases and pests; and artificial incursions of modern bee-keeping on overall hive ecology.” Upon examining the possible causes of this epidemic, investigations have revealed that “‘Natural’ beehives appear less affected” by this now global pandemic dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
“There’s still no concrete evidence” as to why the bees are dying, but almost everyone agrees that it is because of us; by what we, humans, are doing. It is widely accepted that the epidemic is either due to our mass distribution of electromagnetic technology, our unconfined genetic experimentations, our chemical contamination of the environment, or our physical treatment of the honeybees that is causing them to die. I would like to add one more possibility to this list, and that is the increased global radiation that has been measured in many western countries, due to our use of Depleted Uranium munitions for the last two decades.
A detailed survey conducted by Bee Alert Technology (pdf) indicates that disappearances have been the main cause of CCD. Results from June 2007 indicate that 43% of beekeepers surveyed in North America believe that the cause of their bee colonies collapsing has been disappearing bees, compared to 15% cause by Mites and 3% by pesticides. ‘Disappearing’ is the perfect term to describe what is happening, because we, as of this moment, do not know why the bees are not returning to their colonies. The data indicates that the severer the colony loss, the better the correlation with disappearances.
How serious is the situation? There have been reports that up to 80% of the bees in certain regions of Europe and North America have perished. Albert Einstein is said to have stated: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man,” which clearly sums up the current predicament in no uncertain terms.
There is a positive side to the story however; the death of the bees is an early warning signal. Insects are in general at the bottom of the food chain, therefore we, being at the top of the food chain, will usually not be immediately affected by mass extinction of a certain insect species. Bees however are different, they are not only at the bottom of the food chain. We use them as pollinators in our production of fruits and vegetables, and we also consume their labor of love, being honey, directly. This means that bees hold the distinction of being involved in all levels of human consumption. It is because we are so heavily invested in honeybee labor to produce our food that we have been lucky enough to become aware of this epidemic early.
The reasons for why the bees are dying are likely a combination of what has been listed above. Knowing this, we remain bewildered as to why the bees are flying off en masse and not returning to the only thing that they know, which is a colonial life.
The Gaia principle provides some answers. Bees are the most efficient delivery system known on this planet. If they are infected with a virus, carriers of a pathogen, then there is a serious risk of contamination. If the Gaia principle is taken at face value, then the Earth will be aware of this infection and will do whatever is necessary to contain it. This includes committing euthanasia on one of its species (living parts) by signaling the bee colonies to eliminate themselves from the equation.
The Gaia hypothesis is still speculation, but it does help us to understand the interconnectiveness of life on Earth. Since we, our lifestyle, is the most likely culprit of this pandemic, then we would be wise to modify our behavior before the Earth decides that the only way to prevent this infection from spreading is to eliminate the source and not the delivery mechanism.
What is required are large-scale scientific investigations as to the cause of CCD and the consequences of the destruction of the ecosystem through our technology, scientific experimentations, and environmental contamination. We are slowly moving in the right direction with people beginning to realize the benefits of consuming organic food, the use of Genetically Modified seeds being suspended in France , and research into the dangers of EM radiation becoming more widely available, but we must begin to rapidly implement changes. We are approaching the tipping point with this crisis and should make it a global priority.
Hopefully dealing appropriately with the CCD epidemic will usher in a time where we will value the health of the Earth above all else and learn to keep this planet from harm by reducing our ecological footprint.