Feb 12, 2007

Nature's Not Working Quite Right

Cherry Blossoms

Well this is alarming. Something truly awful is happening to the bee population. A mysterious illness is wiping out colonies all over the country.

A mysterious illness is killing tens of thousands of honeybee colonies across the country, threatening honey production, the livelihood of beekeepers and possibly crops that need bees for pollination.

Researchers are scrambling to find the cause of the ailment, called Colony Collapse Disorder.

Reports of unusual colony deaths have come from at least 22 states. Some affected commercial beekeepers -- who often keep thousands of colonies -- have reported losing more than 50 percent of their bees. A colony can have roughly 20,000 bees in the winter, and up to 60,000 in the summer.

This follows another epidemic of bee killing mites a few years ago. But the current crisis points to a possible explanation for that ailment, and disturbing portent for the future of apiculture. An analysis of the dead bees points to an immune breakdown.

Cox-Foster said an analysis of dissected bees turned up an alarmingly high number of foreign fungi, bacteria and other organisms and weakened immune systems.

Researchers are also looking into the effect pesticides might be having on bees.

In the meantime, beekeepers are wondering if bee deaths over the last couple of years that had been blamed on mites or poor management might actually have resulted from the mystery ailment."

Now people think that they may have had this three or four years," vanEnglesdorp said.

This is disturbing on many levels. Not only does it bode ill for honey production and agriculture that relies on bees for pollination. It's yet another indicator of nature gone awry. And like global warming, this phenomenon probably has its roots in human behavior; in this case the use of pesticides.

Here's another example of nature gone mad, that can only be ascribed to the planet's rising temperatures. Cherry blossoms... in January.

Cherry blossoms have been sprouting from Baristaville to Brooklyn, but in January? It seems that mother nature is giving winter a miss this year. The evening news last night even reported "April Showers" for later this week.

And if you're thinking that the massive snowfall in New York state is an indication that global warming isn't such a threat, think again. Lake effect snow occurs when the warm air from lake water meets a cold front. The more the planet heats, the warmer those lakes get, and the greater the shock when cold air, from say Canada moves in. Kind of like our intensifying hurricanes, as the waters in Gulf of Mexico become warmer.

Well. Aren't I a ray of sunshine.