[beemonitoring] Demise of the honey bee?
To weigh in from a different perspective,
I believe Dave Green’s (first email in this series) is a good one. Shawn Regan’s article, though probably accurate, is misguided in my opinion. The public responds well to hype and negative news. If they understand that there are few problems, then things get ignored and we plod along losing ground in the battle to increase bees across the landscape. I don’t know the author Shawn Regan, nor his background or research capabilities. However, his article seems to ring true. I feel that people who say “the honey bees are doing fine” seem to ignore the ongoing efforts made by researchers and innovative companies that constantly plug holes in a damaged ship.
The innate human spirit has us adapting and figuring things out. I view Shawn’s article and the honey bee industry like a sinking rowboat with just enough people to bail it out while one or two keep plugging up holes that appear. “The boat is afloat and we have few problems skipper!”
We do have constant and new issues with honey bees.
To ignore the tedious efforts and vast expense in research to get there just to stay afloat would be a shame. The results of a mature pollination industry to change its practices doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it rises to each new challenge and looks to solve it while still patching holes from previous issues.
I believe our public-facing stance should be two pronged, and slightly parallel to Dave Green’s email:
1. The honey bee industry is under attack on multiple fronts. We should all repeat this mantra. Through laborious and creative efforts, the honey bee industry is able to keep pace with each malady being thrown at it. Responsive contractors and companies continue to battle hard to create new solutions, be they adding/adjusted chemicals, creating “nuc-rearing” companies, and the like. We hope the researchers and honey bee industry figure out each new issue and gains ground steadily.
2. The remaining North American bees, all 4,000 native species, without representation continue to decline. This needs to be a steady beating drum. Through ignorance that there is only the honey bee, and “we have it figured out with the honey bees” has us ignoring the native bees… Which would be tragic. We should continue to raise awareness that there are unbelievably huge problems impacting native and wild bees. …and we should continue to research, educate the public, and look to help the farmers with alternative solutions. Rufus Isaac’s recent USDA/SCRI grant is one such program.
As a team of individuals who care… we should not steer away from the statement that our future food supply is in jeopardy. Crown Bees has recently partnered with the National Garden Club, Inc, and will be teaching all 175,000 members about native bees, mason bees, and simple steps to create healthy yards with bee habitats (cavity & ground nesters) this fall. We hope to create a speakers bureau that will increase awareness to the public. If any of you care to participate in the development of the slide material, I’d love to team with you directly.
We must continue to provide manageable alternatives to ensure we have our food pollination as secure as possible. Educating the backyard gardener is a step in the right direction.
Click below to hear the buzz!
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of pollinator2001
Sent: Friday, August 02, 2013 5:34 AM
Subject: [beemonitoring] Demise of the honey bee?
There has been so much media hoopla about the impending doom of the honey bee, and I've been saying all along that this is hogwash. The honey bee has keepers, who are handling many of the honey bee's problems, who feed the bees and make up the nutritional gaps, who breed new strains of bees for greater hardiness, and who protect and salvage the bees as best they can from pesticide damage.
My successor (the one who bought my bees at my retirement) has been expanding every year, has beautiful hives of bees, has never seen any CCD, and provided thousands of replacement hives this spring for bees lost up North. Honey bee keepers continue to increase in the proportion of pollination service provided by all bees.
This is confirmed by this article: http://qz.com/101585/everyone-calm-down-there-is-no-bee-pocalypse/
What does concern me is that the wild bees, which have no keepers and few defenders, are in greater decline.
I have been observing them for years at our home in South Carolina. We have planted many flowers to feed and encourage them, as well as provide housing, water, mud and other essentials.
Yet they continue to decline. Over a ten year span, all species of bumblebees, except B. impatiens have disappeared at our bee sanctuary.
Ten years ago, our bradford pears had hundreds of small solitary bees on them when they bloomed; now it's just an occasional one or two. Of the solitary bees, only the large carpenter bees remain fairly common.
Our Melissodes bees used to cover our blooming coneflower, sunflowers and milkweed, by this time each year. To date, I've only seen one individual, as opposed to the usual hundreds. I only see an occasional isolated Megachiliid, and B. impatiens on these flowers.
I am deeply concerned at the barrenness of pollinators at our bee sanctuary, despite all our efforts to make things perfect for them.
Pesticide applications continue to be made in violation of bee-protection directions. Around here, that means cotton and mosquito spraying. I am certain that this is a primary cause of the loss of wild bees.
What are we doing to change this?
Retired pollination contractor