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WHAT’S HAPPENING TO OUR BEES?

Cowboy hat By Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer - Mon., 4/30/07
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Bees are dying. Dying all across America. Lots and lots of bees.

Starting in Florida last fall, the great bee die-off has spread to 24 states. Whole colonies are dying. In western states, commercial beekeepers report up to a 60 percent loss of their bees, with losses at 70 percent in Texas and on the east coast. It’s unprecedented.

Who cares? Well, few people realize that many of America’s food crops—from almonds to watermelon-- rely heavily on commercial honeybees for pollination. No bees, no fruit.

Another little known fact is that bee pollination is increasingly a highly concentrated industry. Rather than a dispersed system of local hives, a few commercial operators now haul tens of billions of bees from coast to coast, trucking their hives in 18-wheelers.

"Colony Collapse Disorder" or CCD, as it’s now called, could be the result of this industrialized model of pollination. First, the bees themselves have been bred into single-purpose super-pollinators, rather than bees with multiple functions (make honey, feed the queen, maintain the hives, and extend the species). The industrial bees have lost the diversity and natural traits of wild bees.

Second, constant trucking puts stress on the bees, suppressing their immune systems and making them vulnerable to viruses, mites, and diseases. Also as part of their forced migration, the bees are fed a limited diet of high fructose corn syrup--about as healthy as humans trying to live on Cokes. There is evidence that pesticides and genetically altered organisms that have been artificially spliced into many field crops are a cause of CCD.

It's not just bees and Nature that these food industrialists are messing with--it's our food supply.



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Filed Under: Food safety