Published in GralsWelt 52/2008
Last summer we noticed that there were fewer bees in our garden than usual.
Well, that is a one-on-one observation that can get many answers. But how was it with you? Have you made similar observations, as did some of my friends?
In order to get to the bottom of the matter, I did a little research and came across the following worrying facts.
The disappearance of bees in the USA without a trace
In North America - where there were no bees before Columbus - a new phenomenon emerged in 2006: the bees are gone. Millions upon millions of bees have left their hive, no longer looking after the brood, have disappeared.
On the west coast almost 60 % of the bee colonies collapsed in 2006/2007, on the east coast and in Texas more than 70 %. Across the country, an average of 25 % bees have disappeared (5). What happened?
For the time being, the scientists are still in the dark. You speak of "Colony Collaps Disorder" (CCD); a hitherto unknown disorder that leads to the collapse of the bee colonies and thus first got a name.
Today's fruit trees in America are pollinated up to 80 to 90 % by breeding bees: For example, apples, oranges, pears, plums. Also almond trees, melons, peppers, raspberries and many other types of fruit and vegetables. There are hardly any functioning alternatives to this cross-pollination by bees. (For example a fan that blows the pollen with artificial wind). And in the USA alone, a failure of the bees would result in a material loss of 18 billion dollars - apart from the further environmental damage.
Bee deaths in Germany
Similar problems arise in Europe. For example, about 30 % of all bee colonies were received in Germany in the winter of 2002/2003. In the summer of 2008, 11,500 bee colonies and thus 500 million bees died in southern Germany (3).
The Varroa mite introduced from Asia, which is also considered to be the carrier of disease-causing viruses, is mentioned as the cause of the bee deaths. This mite is the biggest problem for beekeepers. The Varrao mite can be combated; especially with chemical poisons, the residues of which get into the honey and pollute the healthy, natural food. More natural means are being developed. (4).
This bee disease was caused by a scientific error. I already heard at school that living beings should not be imported into regions that are unfamiliar to them, as such “bio-invaders” could cause immeasurable damage. There are plenty of examples, from muskrats, raccoons, gray squirrels or giant hogweed in Central Europe to rabbits in Australia and Asian beetles in the USA.
In the age of globalization with fast passenger and goods traffic between the continents, special care is necessary in order not to bring in unwanted "passengers". But biologists don't seem to mind.
1956 brought the bee researcher Warwick Kerr Queens of the very aggressive African "killer bee" for experimental purposes from Africa to South America. Some races that quickly reproduced and led to many accidents escaped promptly. (2). Since then, the African bees have displaced the much less aggressive European bees (6). The beekeepers in South America have to cope with the very aggressive African bees, which on the one hand bring somewhat better honey yields, but are also decidedly more dangerous.
Unfortunately, such experiences did not make scientists at the Oberursel Bee Institute wise. In 1977 you introduced Asian honeybees for research purposes, and with them the varroa mite. (1 and 7).
Now biologists and pharmacologists have a new research area they have created themselves: The (biological) control of the varroa mite!
Pesticides are assumed to be a further cause of the bee deaths, especially the nerve poison chlorothianidine, which is used to dress seeds, among other things. As expected, the chemical industry is defending itself against such assumptions.
Finally, genetically modified maize is suspected of poisoning the bees, and even stress from the changed environment or electrosmog are up for discussion.
Breeding bees is becoming more difficult, new colonies have risen sharply in price, and the honey harvest is becoming less secure. No wonder that many beekeepers lose interest in their job (or in their hobby, because there are many recreational beekeepers).
Is a disaster looming?
Science conducts research, politics debates, beekeepers give up, bees die.
The focus of public interest is currently the financial crisis (the cause of which, by the way, is a lack of morality among those responsible), and the economic crisis it has triggered.
But who realizes that bees are perhaps fundamentally more important and therefore more valuable for the well-being of mankind than all banks, insurance companies and automobile factories combined?
Flowering plants (anthophyta) have conquered the earth since the Cretaceous period 110 million years ago. Today they are the group of plants with the most species in the world. A significant proportion of these flowering plants, including many useful plants, are dependent on cross-pollination by insects (in America cross-pollination is partly carried out by hummingbirds).
Most fruits and vegetables cannot thrive without bees; after all, about 35 % of food production are dependent on the bees.
Without the bees, human nutrition would depend primarily on grain, the seeds of which are pollinated by the wind.
I don't want to paint a horror scenario on the wall or predict an environmental disaster. The major losses feared have not materialized so far, and the bee deaths will hopefully remain a temporary slump that can be absorbed.
But it should be an occasion to think about what is really important for our planetary life: financial capital or healthy nature?
(3) http: //www.honighäuschen.de.
(4) http://www.submetvet.de/Bienen_frm.htm. .
(7) http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Varroamilbe. (With pictures).