Saturday, March 04, 2017

About Them Bees

I have been uncertain who to believe over the last decade about the bees, because I trust neither side. I think environmentalists are fully capable of getting all worked up over normal processes because they like blaming corporations, especially if there is anything as evil as chemicals involved.

On the other hand, corporations, including those who make chemicals, are not blameless and many companies have suppressed or discredited evidence that hurt them.

With that in mind, the discussion of the NYTimes and bias is interesting.


Retriever said...

I have been bickering with BD about this. I agree TOTALLY that Pollan is an arrogant twit about his own bias and his own influence, but that doesn't necessarily mean he is wrong about the nicotinamoids.

Personally, when I see what has happened to our apple and blueberry yields (down to 10-15%) in the last ten years because of the bees nearly vanishing....I want to swat BD upside his head (he says there is no problem, or that bees don't matter because they are a non-native species!!!!) As a gardener I have seen yields steadily diminishing on all my crops that depend on pollination by bees. So these questions interest me a lot. Should I buy and import fresh bees for the death by whatever each year?

The Europeans are more alarmed than we are about the chemicals and have done more to put moratoria on apparently dangerous ones than we have because their politicians haven't been as heavily bribed by chemical companies as ours. Sigh. Also, we have our wonderful conservative bloggers whose "science" is drawn from Fox News and "unbiased" think tanks funded by chemical companies and big agribusiness who couldn't possibly have any skin in this game, could they?? As I have told BD, as the daughter of someone involved in a specialised form of international farming, I was raised observing that it's profit, yield, and the short term that drive these people, not the long term health of the consumer, the environment or collateral damage.

Don't let me sound a total wack anti-all chemical. I'm big on IPM. You only have to see your entire potato patch wilting with blight to pray to God or Dow for something, anything to prevent such a thing again. But something new in the last ten years IS zapping the bees, and it seems to me that the nicotinamoids are the final straw. IMHO, it's like cancer or autism, multi causal, but one final noxious insult sets the process in motion in the geneticallypredisposed/ environmentally or stress weakened. The nicotinamoids may be what's doing it in a number of ways that I will not bore you recapping any more theories about...

Also, it is NOT simply honeybees (the imports that BD sneers at as unnecessary immigrants) that are in trouble. Here's a consumer oriented description of a bee dear to my heart (as they are the ones who used to help our blueberry bushes and apple trees produce so bountifully only a decade ago)

I will now go back to my crate like a good, and only occasionally lefty liberal doggie.

Tom Bridgeland said...

I keep bees, on a small scale. What has been happening with bees is the importation of several serious new parasites and plagues in the last few decades. Varroa mites being the worst. Domestic bee numbers are back up and above what they were before the mass deaths, which started in the 1990s, but wild honeybee numbers, to the extent we know anything, may still be down. I am talking about honeybee numbers, and know next to nothing about true, native wild bees.

The mites are so bad that almost all big beekeepers have to treat with pesticides in the hives just to keep them alive from year to year. Small-scale, local beekeepers like me can try to get away without treating, but at the cost of colony collapse for many hives. There is hope. Some strains of bees appear to be much more resistant to the mites, and people are beginning to spread these genetics around. I am hopeful that ten years from now this will be just another manageable problem, with most bees genetically resistant to the mites.