Time magazine recently ran a cover story on “A World without Bees,” and Scientific American, in its current issue devoted to food, includes an article on the dangers we face because bees, on which our food supply depends, are dying out in unprecedented numbers.
This is not a new issue – we’ve been warned about it for years, and the New York Times reported six months ago that the collapse of bee colonies has accelerated. Reporter Michael Wines spoke to a Montana beekeeper, who said this of his bees: “They looked so healthy last spring,” said Bill Dahle, 50, who owns Big Sky Honey in Fairview, Mont. “We were so proud of them. Then, about the first of September, they started to fall on their face, to die like crazy. We’ve been doing this 30 years, and we’ve never experienced this kind of loss before.”
A class of pesticides called neonicotinoids may be to blame. They persist for weeks or months after being applied to crops to keep unwanted insects away, and bees can apparently overdose on them. The European Union recently banned neonics (starting in December, for 2 years during study). And then there are all the other chemicals we pour into our environment (to the profit of the chemical industry).
Like it or not, we’re in danger, too. As I’ve explained before, bees are now being packed into trucks and driven hundreds of miles from one farm or orchard to another to do their crucial pollinating. These are desperate measures. One thing you can do: Don’t use chemicals on your lawn or garden!