Back in October of 2007, I wrote a blog Post titled “Entrepreneur’s Challenge: When the colony collapses, where do the honey bees go?” I challenged readers with the following:
“Here’s the Entrepreneur’s Challenge: How would you go about tracking the whereabouts of the missing honey bees? Since they navigate to and from the hive in a relatively short distance, around 2-4 miles, it should be easy to set up some low range tracking device and help solve the mystery of the missing honey bees.”
This morning I caught a headline on msnbc.com titled “Busy bees, but hives are besieged, diseased” with a subtitle of “Scientists struggle to find cause — and fix — for colony collapse disorder”.
In the article by Adrian Higgins, from washingtonpost.com, the problem can be summed up with “After three years of research, scientists think the cause is not a single factor but a cocktail of maladies that together weaken and sicken the bees.”
Stephen L. Buchmann, Ph.D (Department of Entomology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ), made mention of this aspect in a comment to my original Post. In that comment he brings forth a number of the factors that could contribute to the problem as well as some education surrounding the industry and how it affects crops.
Also, funding for research and awareness seems to be minimal to solve the problem. Not long ago, I watched the film “The Last Beekeeper” on Planet Green (Discovery Communications), which “…follows the lives of three commercial beekeepers in South Carolina, Montana, and Washington. Over the course of a year they struggle to come to terms with the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or European honey bee colony abruptly disappear.” Other documentary films like “Vanishing of the Bees” are making an effort to raise awareness, but they are minimally funded and scrambling for attention.
Sadly, the extent to which the USDA suggests the public help combat CCD is limited to “The best action you can take to benefit honey bees is to not use pesticides indiscriminately, especially not to use pesticides at mid-day when honey bees are most likely to be out foraging for nectar. In addition, you can plant and encourage the planting of good nectar sources such as red clover, foxglove, bee balm, and joe-pye weed.”
With so much government spending elsewhere, whilst our nation's crops are most certainly at risk (from this unsolved mystery), you would think they could do more about CCD; while spreading all the $timulu$ around, how about sending some toward solving CCD. Maybe it’s time for all of us to pen a note or make a call to the local, state, and national Department of Agriculture offices and help raise this profile of need. Look around the universities in your area and see what they need, too. After all, this is one issue that literally goes right to your gut.
p.s. Follow this link to the USDA’s Progress Report on CCD, dated June 2009.