Monday, March 23, 2015

And is there honey still for tea?

Send to Kindle for Google Chrome is a great little tool.

If I come across a long article, like Save the Honeybee, Sterilize the Earth by Josh Dzieza, that I want to add to my reading list I just click a button to reformat is and send it to my Paperwhite.

Josh Dzieza's piece is worth reading by the way.
In the US the bee keeping industry makes more money from migratory pollination than from honey sales.
Today, to pollinate California’s almond crop alone requires the services of up to three-quarters of all the managed honeybees in the United States. And they don’t get to the valley on their own; the bees are trucked in by the billion from as far away as Florida each January, just before the trees begin their brief fortnight in bloom.
This has happened because when farmers began planting larger plots with one crop, the natural balance of pollination was distorted. A monoculture, as it’s called, can’t sustain all the wild insects it needs to pollinate it, because there’s nothing for the insects to eat when the main crop isn’t in bloom.
Bumblebees have been disappearing since at least the 1990s. In 2009 and 2010, researchers visited locations near Carlinville, Illinois, where 120 years ago a naturalist studiously recorded which bugs visited what flowers. They found that almost half the bee species were gone, and only saw one American bumblebee after 447 hours of observation. Many of these native bees also pollinate crops, and do so more efficiently than honeybees. As these native bees die, managed honeybees pick up the slack, and we become more reliant on a single species. “Bees aren’t a canary,” Marla Spivak told me. “They’re a mirror, telling us our agricultural system is out of whack.” She added, “We just need to let up the throttle a bit.”
But honey bees can also become malnourished from foraging in monocultural conditions, as opposed to natural habitats or even cities, where parks and gardens provide diverse sources of pollen. At the Beekeeping Federation conference last winter in Baton Rouge, Pettis explained that even pollinating a crop like almonds, which provide abundant and nutritious pollen, is “like living on nothing but broccoli”—in other words, not a balanced diet. And that’s during the two weeks the crop is in bloom; before and after, the bees must rely heavily on artificial supplements, usually mixtures of brewer’s yeast, sugar, and vitamins. The feeds provide protein when natural pollen is scarce, but they aren’t yet as good as the real thing, and bees can’t live on them alone.
This is barking mad. They are going to end up with no pollinators at all apart from a single sickly species of clinically selected and industrially reared honey bee that will be intensely vulnerable to a new disease because of the lack of genetic diversity in the breed. Load up on almonds now. You may not be able to get any in the 2020s.

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