California has lost half of its bee population

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by primroselane, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. primroselane

    primroselane Well-Known Member

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    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2005/03/28/m1a_honeybees_0328.html

    • The varroa mite has killed or severely weakened an estimated 40 percent to 60 percent of honeybees in the United States during the past six months.

    • Millions of acres of U.S. fruit, nut, vegetable, seed and legume crops depend on insect pollination. An estimated 80 percent of insect crop pollination is accomplished by honeybees.

    • Crops that require bees for pollination include apples, avocados, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, oranges, grapefruit, sunflowers, tangerines and watermelon. In addition, the production of most beef and dairy products depends on alfalfa, clover and other plants that require pollination.

    • Honeybees are ideal for pollination because they can be managed easily and moved to where they are needed. They also will pollinate a wide variety of crops without harming the plants.

    "If honeybees ceased to exist, two-thirds of the citrus, all of the watermelons, the blueberries, strawberries, pecans and beans would disappear," said Jerry Hayes, apiary inspection chief with the state's Division of Plant Industry.

    But now it's the bee itself that is disappearing.

    Under attack from a Southeast Asian parasite, vast numbers of the creatures are dying off, worried industry experts say. More than 50 percent of the bees in California, critical to the success of the Golden State's almond crop, have died during the past six months. Frantic growers there have sent out the call around the world, including Florida, for hives.
     
  2. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) The plight of the honey bee has been going on for some time and is at a crisis andhas been. Glad you posted this again though. We all need reminding.

    Many people are trying their best to make attactive homes for the little black Mason Bee to keep them attracted to our areas. We drill 3/8 inch holes in the ends of 4 X 4's and put them out here and there.

    Others persist on spraying their flowers, veggies, fruit trees etc. with insecticides at the wrong times, with the wrong products, and not even a thought at what else it's killing.

    Many others are looking at the Africanized Honey Bee as our salvation. These bees when crossed with the European Bee that we are so familiar with are resistant to the mite, produce more honey per hive each year than the European Bee and have a number of other desirable traits. And they have some not-so-desirable traits too, the least of which is their grumpiness.

    As a species, we are indeed totally thoughtless and stupid about our natural world and how it effects our lives.

    discouraging but true.

    LQ
     

  3. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

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    Five years ago I knew where no less than five bee trees were on or near my property. I used to spend some time in the orchard watching bees do their work. Then suddenly, and I do mean suddenly, all the bees simply disappeared.

    Neighbor has a huge organic asian pear orchard and I have well over 50 fruit trees. There has not been honey bee 1 there in any of those trees for the past several years. But we continue getting a crop and I was mystified for a while.

    I spent still more time out in the orchards simply observing. Now I am very far from an entomologist and cannot tell you any specifics of what insects are doing the work, but there are MANY species of insects working the trees that I do not remember doing so before. That may be because I was so focussed on the honeybees before. And yes! some of those insects may be doing things I would prefer they do not, but, nevertheless, the trees are getting pollinated. The only bees I've seen that I can identify are bumble bees. But there are many other kinds of insects flitting around in those trees than anything I would call a bee. And as I said, we are still getting a crop.

    Because of the continuing cropping of our trees neither of us has found it necessary, though maybe desireable, to keep bees.

    bearkiller
     
  4. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    They just had something on NPR the other day about. They gave the 50% number for the entire country, just in the last year! North Carolina is actually giving grants for hives and bees for backyard beekeepers.
     
  5. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :p :p :p A BEE POEM...LOL Some people are very clever and talented.






    As I walked through prosperous farmland, I saw them everywhere,
    Visiting crop flowers, buzzing through the air.
    They came from nearby woodlands seeking nectar on which to feed,
    And when they pollinated crops, they set the flowers to seed.

    The seeds were sold by farmers to pay their many bills,
    To send their kids to college, to enjoy life's many thrills.
    Merchants that received their payments prospered well too,
    They bought vacation homes in Honolulu.

    Pollinated food crops feed many a human mouth,
    Not just in the north, but also in the south.
    Most are pollinated by various wild bees,
    But some rely on other animals or a windy breeze.

    Managed honeybees, we know, pollinate crops too,
    But not nearly as many as wild bees do.
    With countless honeybees now diseased or Africanized,
    Their colonies are fewer and their keepers terrorized.

    The next day I passed other farms, those of ignorant men,
    Who had developed all their lands, even hill and glen.
    To maximize profits, they'd plowed all they had acquired,
    And so destroyed the habitats that wild bees required.

    Still others had sprayed their crops with too many insecticides
    And so killed not only insect pests but pollinators besides.
    They'd even used strong herbicides to kill every little weed
    And so destroyed wild flowers that in other months bees need.

    The crop yields of these other farms were consequently diminished
    For now they hadn't enough bees to get pollination finished.
    This resulted in less production, less bottom line for all
    Less money for them to spend at the brand new shopping mall.

    Its amazing to think how our rural economies
    Are so much dependent on hardworking bees.
    These industrious little insects are more than flimsy props,
    They're absolutely essential to produce great bumper crops.

    For each pollinator bee is in fact a little cupid
    That creates hot romances between plants thought to be stupid.
    Each bee can be considered a matchmaking agency
    That arranges introductions for a nominal nectar.
     
  6. bearkiller

    bearkiller Well-Known Member

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    I enjoyed that poem, Little Quacker.

    But also want to mention that all is not lost in the battle for the bees. Here is an example of biological warfare at its best:

    http://www.beesource.com/news/article/fungus.htm

    So maybe we'll get a return of the bees in not too far distant a future.

    bearkiller
     
  7. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :)

    That is good news!

    I guess many people don't think of the fact that there are many different creatures that pollinate plants. Not only bees... but wasps, moths, beetles, flies and and butterflies polliante our plants. . Many hundreds of species of birds and mammals also serve as pollinators. We all know that the hummingbird is a wonderful pollinator, just look at it's behaviour! Also not as well known but no less important are many of the perching birds, flying foxes, fruit bats, and possums... not just here but world wide. In our zeal to wipe out some critter that may have a small and local impact on us we don't even bother to learn enough about their life style to know that we are slowly killing ourselves by knocking off our best and most important allies against hunger and disease. Duhhhhh.

    I guess many people don't think of the fact that there are many different creatures that also pollinate our flowers, crops and fruit trees. In addition to bees.... wasps, moths, butterflies, flies(yeah, just those pesky flies! LOL) and beetles, as many as 1500 species of birds and mammals serve as pollinators. Hummingbirds are the best known bird pollinators here in the Americas, but perching birds, flying foxes, fruit bats, snails, slugs, possums, lemurs and even a gecko function as effective pollinators here and elsewhere in the world.

    You were mentioning fruit trees. Many crops of commercial importance (almond, cherry, pear, apple, coffee, sunflower, turnip rape, water melon, cucumber, melon, avocado, alfalfa, etc.) rely on pollination by insects, and of these insects, bees are recognized as being the most important to us, commercially. Not just the domestic Honey bee though... wild bees and wasps do more of this than our familiar honey bee. Hundreds of species of wild bees are more important than even our honey bee for many crops..especially in colder climates.

    So, it's worth giving a thought to letting some wildflowers grow on your property and taking other means of protecting your veggies against being eaten by slugs, snails and the like( I feed 'possums in my garden for the nightimes)and preserving our natural pollinators and vermin killers.

    LQ
     
  8. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    Yes!

    Now, where can I buy summa that!