Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bees Continue To Struggle

Approximately 30% of all the bee colonies in the U.S. died off over the winter.  That has been the average for the past 6 years:
Beekeepers have a of reasons for why so many colonies are dying. There's a nasty parasite called the , which they can't get rid of. There are also bee-killing pesticides. And there are just fewer places in the country where a bee can find plenty of flowering plants that provide nectar and pollen.
That was especially true this past year. The same drought that left Midwestern corn fields parched and wilting also dried up wildflowers and starved the bees.
That was a natural disaster. But , who chairs the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says that most of the changes in the landscape are the result of people's decisions about what to do with their land.
"I just wish there were more incentives for people — not just farmers — to plant a more diversified landscape that provides nutritional resources for all kinds of pollinators," she says. "Plant more flowers! And be a little more tolerant of the weeds in the garden."
More controversial is the role of pesticides. Some beekeepers and environmentalists are calling for tighter restrictions on the use of one particular class of . Europe is about to ban some uses of these pesticides. But U.S. farmers and pesticide companies are opposed to any such move here, and the Environmental Protection Agency says it's not yet convinced that this would help bees very much.
I don't know how quickly bees reproduce, but I really don't think that is sustainable.  I don't know that neonicotinoids are the main cause of the bee die off, but I don't have much confidence in farmers, pesticide companies and the EPA ever doing much to find out.

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