Are bees still on the decline? YES.

Nov 6, 2008 by

My uncle asked me this question a few days ago, and I found it disappointing. Not on his part, of course--I was glad he knew about the situation and cared to see where it was at. Instead, my frustration was aimed at the media and the general public and their lack of knowledge on this topic. Why isn't there more news on this? According to an article on CBS news, 36.1 percent of the nation's commercially managed hives lost their populations last year, compared to 32 percent last year. Apparently, the die-off is not quite enough to show a trend, and also isn't quite enough to deserve any real alarm--or so it seems. But I'll be frank here, I think our recent economic meltdown has shown that most people are quite happy to turn the other way and deny impending disaster if it doesn't serve their immediate situation...and as we are seeing right now, this doesn't always leave us in the best place. We are bargaining our environmental capital--bees and other pollinators--on larger agricultural yields and a flawed food system. This situation is indicative of a general trend in Western development, especially regarding environmental management. We push and push our ecosystem until it has nothing left to give, hoping we'll have the ingenuity to pick up the pieces later. Dennis vanEnglesdorp (great name!), a bee expert with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture made a great comment on the 36.1 percent loss. "That's an astonishing number," he said. "Imagine if one out of every three cows, or one out of every three chickens, were dying. That would raise a lot of alarm." Good point, I think. So why isn't it alarming anyone...or at least enough of us to take action?

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