Monday, May 28, 2012

The Silence of the Bees

This is how the media deal with stories such as bee-colony collapse disorder. It is as if, on day one, they sight a forest fire approaching the city and begin to air breathless bulletins containing little information and wild speculation bout how bad it might get.

On day two, the fire being bigger and closer, they go to wall-to-wall coverage and talk of nothing else. On day three, the fire is even bigger and even closer, but it’s old news. Back to celebrity divorces. Thus has the prospect of losing our honeybees — and one third of our food — dropped from the public radar.

Colony Collapse Disorder got its name and its acronym — CCD — in 2007, after entire colonies of bees began to disappear. The first reports of losses came from commercial beekeepers whose workers spent much of their lives on 18-wheeler trucks being whisked from one farm to another to pollinate on the the 70-plus crops that depend on bees for their survival. The syndrome — a sudden and virtually complete disappearance of an entire colony of bees — spread across North America and Europe.

During the panicky coverage of the problems affecting commercial beekeepers it was noticed that wild bees in the affected areas were virtually extinct.

Media coverage reached a fever pitch in 2010, during which year any number of “causes” of the disorder were announced. It was mites! No, a fungus! No, cell phone radiation! An influenza? Pesticides? Starvation! Habitat destruction! Genetically modified crops? Genetically modified bees! Read More