To Bee or Not To Bee

I don’t know about you, but for me, fruits and nuts are among my favorite foods.  One of the reasons I enjoy living in California is the abundance of fresh, local fruit year-round.  Nearly all fruits and nuts are dependent upon bees for pollination, and bees, my friend are in trouble.

Colony Collapse Disorder

In the mid to late 2000s an increasing number of beekeepers began noticing significant reductions in the number of honeybees in their hives.  They gave it a name: colony collapse disorder.  This is a serious problem for agriculture since the USDA estimates that a third of our diet comes from food dependent upon pollination. As proud owner of a tangelo tree which we planted when we moved into Rossmoor, each winter I am concerned about whether or not enough bees will find their way to our tree.

The United Nations estimates that 40% of invertebrate pollination species including bees and butterflies are on the brink of extinction.

The research I have done indicates that there are multiple causes for the plight of these beautiful little friends. One of the primary causes apparently is a mite that transmits viruses to the bees.  Other factors include nutritional deficiencies, weather, diseases and pesticide use.

Friends of the Earth, a large environmental organization believes that the agricultural and gardeners use of pesticides is a major factor in bee death.  They currently have a campaign to phase out the use of bee-killing neonics.  Large retailers including Home Depot and Lowes have agreed to stop selling plants pre-treated with neonics by the end of this year.  Other garden stores and hardware stories have been less cooperative.

This article first appeared in the September 07, 2016 issue of the Rossmoor News, author Bob Hanson.

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