My brother had two hives of honeybees when he was young. All I remember is the smoker he used (to numb the bees so they wouldn’t sting him) to get into the hive to retrieve the honeycombs. At this time I didn’t realize the significance of the honeybees pollinating our fruits, vegetables and nuts.
In a recent segment by 60 Minutes they followed a commercial honeybee keeper, David Hackenberg, who had 2,200 hives that he rents to farmers all over the country. Last year Hackenberg lost 400 hives in one day and within a couple more months he had lost two-thirds of his bees. Scientists call the malady Colony Collapse Disorder and can’t seem to attribute this devastation to one factor.
Hackenberg says most beekeepers feel the culprit are a nicotine-based pesticides called neonicolinoids, which cause memory loss and a nervous system disorder so the honeybees fly off in search of pollen and nectar and lose their sense of navigation and can’t find their way back to the hives once they leave.
With whole colonies of honeybees dying, I’m wondering if the commercial bee industry can meet the demand for the bees to pollinate the crops. Not only is there concern about Colony Collapse Disorder, but many honeybees are also being displaced by suburban sprawl. Honeybees are such an integral part of our food supply. They account for a large percentage of the insects that pollinate our fruits and vegetables.
Dr. Marcia Spivak, an authority on honeybees, feels that bees are sensors for our environment. “They mirror us. They reflect what we’re doing and give us feedback.” The bees are saying, “I can’t live here, it’s toxic.”