Worry About Disappearing Honey Bees Not Polar Bears
Article by James William Smith
Many people are worried that the cute furry polar bear will lose its ice habitat due to global warming later in this century. The polar bear does not have a real problem today, but many people worry about their future without ice nevertheless. The same concern is shared about global warming’s undesirable future impact on tigers, penguins, turtles, birds, and many other species later in this century and next.
However, few people seem very concerned about the more immediate crisis of the disappearing honey bee. It may be hard to get the same popular concern for a species that can leave people with an unpleasant sting. Indeed, the honey bee can be somewhat annoying at the cookout or picnic. They are certainly not the cute, furry, white, ice-bound inhabitants that are identified so clearly with a warming climate.
The reality though is that the problems in the hives of the honey bee are far more important to us. The disappearance of the honey bee certainly deserves more immediate attention and concern than the potential problems that the polar bear and other species may experience later in this century.
The pollination of the honey bee is crucial to our agriculture and the world’s food supply. Without the honey bee, prices of vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs and dairy prices will all spiral through the proverbial roof. It would be world food price inflation on steroids. Without the pollination of the honey bee, the world food supply would be greatly compromised. People just could not afford or obtain today’s basic food staples. In fact, without the honey bee, the only pollination that would occur would be wind pollination. The result of a world without honey bee pollination would leave us with a diet that consisted of grain and seafood.
Therefore, if we want to continue to regularly eat meat, eggs, fruits, nuts, vegetables; such as, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, pumpkins, squash, apples, blueberries, avocados, almonds or cherries, et al, we need to give this disappearing honey bee mystery (CCD) some immediate political attention.
In 2008, the latest news on the problem of the disappearing honey bee is not very reassuring. It is now estimated that nearly half of Italy’s 50 billion bee population died last year. That bee mortality rate will have a drastic effect on the country’s 25-million-euro honey industry which could plummet by at least 50% this year, and wreak havoc on fruit crops. Meanwhile, the situation in the U.S., where up to 70% of honey bees have already died, is far worse than in Italy. The worldwide bee epidemic has also hit France, Germany, Britain, Brazil, Australia, and Canada.
Meanwhile, world politicians continue to ignore the severity of the problem. In the United States, the honey bee problem and its ramifications have not even been discussed in any 2008 Presidential election event. All the presidential candidates promise the usual increasing bounty of new government spending oblivious to the fact that the disappearing honey bee crisis, if unresolved, may create huge food price inflation and food scarcity during their second presidential term in office.
In the First National Beekeepers Conference in January 2008 in Sacramento, California, beekeepers complained about the lack of government action as they confront financial catastrophe. In general, United States honey bee inspection remains critically under funded, understaffed, and under appreciated.
While there still is no solution to the problem of colony collapse disorder, ongoing research into the problem is focused on three main theories – pesticides (herbicides, fungicides), mono-nutrition, and viruses. There may be just one cause of CCD or it could be a combination of several problems. The truth is that we are not near a solution to the problem of disappearing bees from their hives since a cause has yet to be clearly identified and time may be running out.
In the United Kingdom, the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) said that if the crisis continued, honeybees would disappear completely from Britain by 2018, causing “calamitous” economic and environmental problems. Unfortunately, in a recent meeting between Lord Rooker, the British farming minister, and the BBKA, the minister refused to increase spending on disappearing bee research, even though in November, he appeared to admit the severity of the threat, when he said: “If we do not do anything, the chances are that in 10 years time we will not have any honeybees”.
Professor Francis Ratniek, a bee expert at Sheffield University, said: “If there was to be a bee collapse the effect on Britain would be huge. In Britain we haven’t had our fair share of bee research funds and research into bee disease has decreased just as the threat to colonies is increasing. A complete die-off is a worst case scenario”.
So as we proceed through this 2008 Presidential election year, people need to ask this question to the political candidates when they request our vote. What will they be doing from the White House about the disappearing honey bee to insure that we will not be on a diet of grain and fish by the end of their second term in office? If they don’t know how to answer the question, don’t be surprised. They may not even know about the current worldwide environmental crisis of the disappearing honey bee called Colony Collapse Disorder.
The truth is that the 2008 Presidential candidates may be more concerned about the possible effects in the next century of global warming on man and its impact on the habitat of species like the polar bear. After all the candidates political platform for success on election day at the ballot box is to appear to be environmentally proactive to every voter. Indeed, for the politician in 2008, talking about saving the polar bear from melting ice next century is much preferred to talking about the catastrophic potential effect of the disappearing honey bee of today.
About the Author
James William Smith has worked in senior management positions for some of the largest financial services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years. He has also provided business consulting support for insurance organizations and start up businesses. Mr. Smith has a Bachelor of Science Degree from Boston College. He enjoys writing articles on political, national, and world events. Visit his website at http://www.eworldvu.com