Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Honeybees Dying

Weekly Reader Lead Story Honeybee Woes:

"'One third of the food you and I eat every day can be traced back to honeybees,' says Hayes. 'If the honeybees aren't there, the grower doesn't have any options. If you don't have honeybees to carry pollen from one crop to another, you get zero crops.' "

Here's a map of the states reporting honeybee loses so far:

"Every third bite you take is backed up by a honeybee," Webb points out. "Without bees, we wouldn't eat very well."

"If we didn't have honeybees, we wouldn't have any fruit or hardly any veggies," adds local beekeeper Jo Haugland, one of Webb's former students.

"Until you corner her, step on her or grab her, she's not going to sting," Cochran says. "She's busy doing her job."

In fact, says Webb, the sting is a suicidal last act that only about one in 10,000 honeybees will ever commit. Most stings, he notes, are not from bees at all; wasps, hornets and yellow jackets are the usual culprits.

"People blame everything on bees, but they do so much good," Webb says.

"Honeybees take a bad rap," Haugland adds. "They're industrious, clean, organized and interesting. They're completely focused. You can even walk up to a honeybee that's collecting pollen and pet it on the back, they're that intent."

'Tis true. Try it. Reach out to the honeybee sipping nectar from a bud and ever so gently, stroke her furry back just between the resting, lacy wings. She may startle and move to another flower. Or, she may continue suckling, sides heaving gently, as she communes with her flower and you with your bee.

Read more here.

From the American Beekeeping Federation, ABF:

Reports on their losses coming from beekeepers vary widely. Some commercial beekeepers are reporting their losses as about the same as the last several years. Others report losing thousands of colonies: one lost 11,000 of his 13,000 colonies; another 700 of 900; another 2500 of 3500; another virtually all of his 10,000.

“Beekeepers overwintering in the north many not know the status of their colonies until they are able to make early spring inspections. This should occur in late February or early March but is dependent on weather conditions. Regardless, there is little doubt that honey bees are going to be in short supply this spring and possibly into the summer."

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