:::this is the way the world ends:::

What’s going on with Apis mellifera?



  1. J.E.

    Wow! First I’ve ever heard of that theory. I wonder if there is enough time to figure this out before we face food shortages.

    What I love about this is that it is another thing for me to feel guilty about. “Prevent world hunger — use a land line.”

    Sometimes I think the only solution to our problems would be to revert to a hunter gatherer lifestyle. But of course that gives rise to other undesireables… like a 35 year life span.

  2. Shotts

    I have been hearing about the increasingly endangered status of bees for the last few years. But I hadn’t heard any connection to cell phone usage and the like. I had thought it had to do with increased disease, like lungwort, that is causing hives to rot and swarm and often die.

    I’m not sure what the causes of this increased disease are. I heard a recent report on this on NPR, and several Minnesota beekeepers have been saying that bee numbers are way down the last year or two.

    I know what J.E. means about reverting to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. I think that would be almost impossible, at least in most of the U.S., especially with more and more people moving to urban areas. But I agree that major lifestyle changes will have to occur at some point. Why not now? We only change to suit existing conditions, so my feeling is that there won’t be major lifestyle shifts until we’re facing a crisis. That will be the real tragedy of human nature.

    I recommend you all read Thomas Friedman’s cover story to last weekend’s New York Times Magazine about America’s need to go green before CO2 levels increase to disastrous proportions.

    With these large-scale issues in mind, I always tend to end up feeling that the real crisis is one of overpopulation–the solutions to which always make me feel uncomfortable.

  3. J.E.

    You are right the “tragedy of human nature” is that we only need to have enough smarts to plan ahead far enough to get our genes into the next generation. Our instincts could care less about the multigenerational problems like CO2 and CCD. When it is a crisis we’ll pay attention. I have no doubt that the species will survive but at what cost no one can fathom.

  4. Shotts

    A little internal Poetry Post, on this subject. Here’s a poem by Nick Flynn from his book titled BLIND HUBER, in the voice of bees.


    When you see us swarm — rustle of

    wingbeat, collapsed air — your mind
    tries to make us one, a common

    intelligence, a single spirit un-
    tethered. You imagine us merely
    searching out the next

    vessel, anything

    that could contain us, as if the hive
    were just another jar. You try

    to hold the ending, this
    unspooling, make it either

    zero or many, lack

    or flurry. I was born,
    you begin, & already each word
    makes you smaller. Look at this field —

    Cosmos. Lungwort. Utter each
    & break

    into a thousand versions of yourself.

    You can’t tell your stories fast enough.
    The answer is not one, but also

    not two.

  5. Ned

    I don’t know if you realize this, but if the bees go, we go. We meaning the human race.

  6. Shotts

    Yes, I think we realize this, hence all the attention on the declining numbers of active bees. And it wouldn’t just be the human race that would be in trouble, but many species, plant and animal.

  7. Tobias

    One of the reasons I posted this specific article is that this report frightens me. In the end, it may not be cell phones definitively causing the problems — but that’s beside the point to me. I care about decline and extinction of all species, for sure…but for some reason what they’re describing happening to bees hits closer to home. Maybe someone else shares my sentiments and can verbalize them more effectively.

    Thanks for posting your comment, Ned — it’s succinct in its verdict about the human race’s fate. I hope the declining bee population falls on the radar of society soon. I’d give up my cell phone in a minute if it meant the survival of bees, and the human race. Strangely, also, I feel like the bees are victims more than we are.

  8. Shotts

    Another poem, appropriate to this discussion, by Nick Flynn from BLIND HUBER–this one in the voice of the Queen:


    Net suit &
    smoking cup, you reek fear.
    If we fight back, or if there isn’t

    enough, you seek me out with gloved fingers
    to crush my head. When we sting

    you scream. We know why

    you carry our white boxes
    to the edge of the alfalfa, to the figs

    & raspberries. You take our honey
    because we let you. We pollinate the fields

    because we are the fields.

  9. J.E.

    Colony Collapse Disorder is a very important issue and deserves much more research funding. However, Homo sapiens does not face extinction due to the decline of Apis mellifera.

    Most grasses are wind pollinated. Wheat, corn and rice are grasses.

    For more information see this Wikipedia entry on pollination.

    However this raises a thorny question. Is it more effective for the ecological advocate to promote sound understanding of the earth and her systems (which takes a lot of work) or to just bend the truth to scare people into action?

  10. Tobias

    Well, J.E. — Mr Smarty-Pants — how will the wind blow if the bees aren’t there to flap their little wings and make it go?


  11. J.E.

    I hadn’t thought of that!

    We’re doomed!


  12. Ned

    Excuse the exaggeration. This is from your wikpedia site.

    Pollinators participate in sexual reproduction of many plants, by ensuring cross-pollination, essential for some species, or a major factor in ensuring genetic diversity for others. Since plants are the primary food source for animals, the reduction of one of the primary pollination agents, or even their possible disappearance, has raised concern, and the conservation of pollinators has become part of biodiversity conservation efforts.

    The value of bee pollination in human nutrition and food for wildlife is immense and difficult to quantify.

    It is commonly said that about one third of human nutrition is due to bee pollination. This includes the majority of fruits, many vegetables (or their seed crop) and secondary effects from legumes such as alfalfa and clover fed to livestock.

    The study of pollinator decline is also interesting some scientists, as bees have the potential to become a keystone indicator species of environmental degradation.

  13. Ned

    So a student of mine told me about this report that a university in CA did supporting evidence that a fungus is responsible for the declining bee population. I’ll try to get the website. I guess the jury is still out…

  14. Shotts

    There was an article in last week’s Minneapolis Star Tribune that said that many beekeepers and experts had denounced the idea that cell phones were causing the decreased numbers of bees. Instead, the article seemed to suggest that some strain of the Verroa mite had been significantly depleting bee populations for the last ten to twenty years…

    I’m not sure how to creat a link inside a comment (as opposed to a post), but the link can be found here:


  15. Tobias

    It looks like the Independent isn’t fact-checking so well, here’s an MSNBC story contradicting it and talking about the multitude of theories: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18441520/

    And another about the possible ramifications: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18442426/

    They do seem to be approaching this soberly, so it’s nice to read. We may be all eating like cavemen, which wouldn’t be so bad 😉

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