A Bee Crisis

Colony collapse disorder. The technical term for the disturbing new trend of disappearing bees. The Nature of Things on CBC begins its 2010 season with “To Bee or Not to Bee?”, a fascinating treatment of this odd and puzzling dilemma. In Germany, one case of bees dying in massive numbers was linked to a toxic new pesticide. Other possible causes include climate change, monoculture, fungal disease, parasites (mites), and even electromagnetic radiation.

Difficulties involved in this apiary crisis are quintessentially holistic and multi-factoral. This is archetypal of the issues we face in our modern environment — the kind of subtle, highly complex, interdependent, interactive conundrum that would have turned Rachel Carson’s hair white.

Yet we need to seek to solve these crises. In the case of bees, who are key pollinators in our modern agricultural system (which is problematic to begin with), our very survival may depend on it.

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4 Responses to “A Bee Crisis”

  1. kerrjac Says:

    I’m amazed that we still haven’t figured this out. It makes you wonder whether the solution is more complex than one would think, that is it might be a number of factors which finally became fateful when combined in the wrong way. Alternatively, I’m also curious about the genetics involved. You’d think that with such a low female-to-male ratio, some substance that might produce random mutations would have delayed but drastic effects.

  2. The Necromancer Says:

    The problem is more complex than we think. Probably too complex. The documentary suggested that a generalized “stress” was involved (side note: The idea of stress made its way into medicine through metallurgy (think metal fatigue) in a book by Hans Selye, “The Stress of Life” in the mid-1950s — he was working at my alma mater, McGill University, at the time).

    On the genetic front…That seems to be one of the key possibilities for a solution: Breeding better bees.

  3. Squirrel Queen Says:

    We take for granted all that bees do for us. I hope we can reverse this trend soon. The outcome if we don’t could be disastrous.

  4. Dying Bees in My Backyard « The Necromancer Says:

    […] Well, I suppose it was only a matter of time. This story from the Vancouver Sun reports that colony collapse disorder has struck here on Vancouver Island, with a loss of perhaps 90% of the local commercial bee […]

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