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March 26, 2007

Update on Bee Disappearance

"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." - Albert Einstein

The widespread disappearance of honey bees reported here previously has continued, as has media coverage of the issue. An article in Der Speigel has broken this article out in the mainstream media, with widespread blog coverage. A recent more detailed article entitled Mysterious collapse of honeybee populations threatens national food supply on the Newstarget site. An appearance on the CoasttoCoast radio show has resulted in several podcasts featuring Linda from Earthfiles one of which is here. As usual the main stream media have so far pretty much ignored the problem. Even the New York Times article didn't get anywhere near as much followon as "Lavender and Tea Tree cause manboobs," a story with much less ultimate impact.

Various explanations for the bee dieoff include pesticides, GM Crops, or bee diseases but the bottom line is no one knows.

In my previous post I stated that honey bees were responsible for the pollination of many plants, "almost certainly including many aromatic species." I've now done some research online to determine which one are on the list.  Solid information is difficult to find, since even McGregor, supposedly the most authoritative source, isn't sure of the extent that bees are the pollinators and how that affects the production of the plants.  McGregor looks mainly at domesticated species, but does include "drug plants" in general and includes a more detailed discussion of the following plants:

Carrot, Coriander, Fennel, Lavender, Parsley, Anise, Cardamom, Clove, Nutmeg, Allspice, Vanilla, and Dill.

Some of the species on this list are hand pollinated, but there is considerable evidence that at least one species (lavender) shows an increase in essential oil yield when bees are present, presumably pollinating. The lack of presence on this list doesn't mean that a species is not bee-pollinated; it merely means that no one cared enough about the plant to pay attention. So at present we can't tell which essential oils may be affected, but the answer is likely to turn out to be most.

One of the implications of all this is the increasing reliance on single domesticated species in our food chain. So far the information presented discusses the problem with the honey bee, since that is what can easily be noticed by beekeepers.  I have found no current information about the status of native bee species, which are [more likely?] to be pollinators of wild-crafted plants, but this paper from 2002 is about the loss of habitat for native species of bees (I'll bet you didn't even know that there are wild bees, since we all tend to think in terms of the honey bee, which is a European species apparently brought to America in 1620 by colonists.) And it is likely that all pollinating species are affected, not just the honey bees.

With the loss of species diversity we  leave ourselves increasingly vulnerable to the effects of diseases, pollution, or climate phenomena such as global warming. Whether it is our essential oil crops, or our food crops, we could face a future of deprivation.

After I listened to the Podcast and understood its implications, I exclaimed to myself "We are all doomed!". However, as I got out of the car in the driveway last night I heard a bee buzzing nearby, and I thought "well maybe not quite yet . . ."

Posted by Rob on March 26, 2007 in Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Oil Crops | Permalink

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Comments

Thanks for putting this together, Rob. What can we do to help turn the tide?

Posted by: Stacey | Mar 27, 2007 3:11:33 PM

Your article was pretty interesting, but I still don't understand where the bees have gone. I mean, if they have just disappeared where did they go? Does anyone know? From what I have read and heard on the news, they are just gone. Why does this purport that they have died and not just gone somewhere else? Do the "killer bees" that have migrated north from the nefarious research in South America have anything to do with this do you suppose? I was just wondering where I might find more information on this. Thanx

Posted by: SER | Apr 11, 2007 2:58:18 PM

Thank you for the update. I have written a manuscript which teaches people how to access data through (1) genetic memory of the human body [approx. 13.7 billion years] and (2) the other body, electric, unlimited time.
This information is important as the body becomes the time machine, which opens the portals to dimensions, and enables answers to become available. I will be happy to forward to your organization, as I am making it free for the purpose of survival of humanity, and the planet and all life therein.

I am hoping that "critical mass" will occur with this writing so as to enable humanity to rise above past ignorances, and thereby be part of the "super-nova" advancement for the survival of us all.

We have been manipulated too long, and it seems like we are on the late side of intervention. I hope and pray not.

lpk

Posted by: Lillian Pearl Khan | Apr 14, 2007 11:34:03 AM

Someone must come forth with a loud voice to make the severity of this REAL issue eclipse the insane focus on global warming. True science, ignored by politicians and even numerous scientists, absolutely does not put man in the center of the 'warming' issue. We do not control the sun, for instance. The correlation between the sun's increased temp vs. earth warming over the last 150 years is obvious & WE do not have control over the sun!! These cycles have been going on since the beginning. BUT, what is real? The honey bee issue. Those with influence, step up and vigorously demand a prominent forum, and with loud voice, get people to put energy and resources into this issue!!

Posted by: Ronald Rydman | Apr 22, 2007 6:27:59 PM

The magnetic poles are in the process of reversing as they do from time to time. The bees use the magnetic field lines as the means to navigate so they are getting lost as to where the hive is after foraging. Away from the safety of the hive they die quickly and become food for all kinds of scavengers. The short term effects might be a disaster, be the bees have survived through past pole flips, so I imagine that they will eventually work things out.

Posted by: Mike Herman | Apr 23, 2007 6:26:48 PM

I share the same thought as Mike Herman. But we can no longer wait until the bees get used to the flipped field. By then, we are gone. Now, two steps we need to do following this trend of thought. First, we need to verify if the shift of the earth magnetic field and its impact on bees disapparence are real. If so, think of a way to remedy the situation. For example, train the bees with an imposed artificial magnetic field. All these could proceed in parallel by the researchers in astrophysics, biology, etc. But we can do the imposed field experiment right away without the field shift verification. May be the former has been done in the past, I wish someone could report the progress.

Posted by: danny liu | Apr 20, 2008 2:53:32 PM

why do bees become dosile while on my lavender i have hundereds of bees on it every day and some become so dosile that they die this concerns me is there anything i can do

Posted by: dave | Aug 1, 2008 3:25:03 PM

My guess is that they are affected by the lavender scent just like humans, and become more relaxed. A few may die. One of the theories of essential oil evolution is that plants developed them to control insects.

Has anyone else seen this occurring?

I did a Google search but didn't find anything definitive. I did find this video:

Posted by: Rob | Aug 2, 2008 9:42:31 PM

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