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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Alternate Opinions Regarding Colony Collapse Disorder...

Are Media Hyping Bee Crisis to Divert Attention From Cold-related Crop Damage?

Posted by Noel Sheppard on May 6, 2007 - 19:45.

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about the bee crisis in America. Currently termed “colony collapse disorder,” it is the massive die-off of a bee hive or colony for oftentimes inexplicable reasons.

Of late, this malady has resulted in a 25 percent reduction in colony totals here in the U.S., setting off alarmist media reports like the following from the Associated Press (emphasis added throughout):

Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of the nation's honeybees could have a devastating effect on America's dinner plate, perhaps even reducing us to a glorified bread-and-water diet.

Yummy. Even worse, look at this list of delectable delights supposedly at risk:

[A]pples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

There’s only one problem with the AP’s position: some of the crops on this list actually don’t require bees to pollinate them. As reported by Kansas State University:

Sweet corn is wind pollinated -- by pollen falling from the tassel (male) to the silk (female) part of the plant. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans, and peas are nearly completely self-pollinated. The flowers of these plants are arranged so that the flowers are pollinated by the natural growth process of the flower shedding pollen from the male to female parts. It is the vine crops -- including squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, muskmelons, watermelons and gourds -- that are bee pollinated.


Of course, many crops develop their edible portions without any relation to flowering. These include potatoes, sweetpotatoes, leafy green crops, cabbage and rhubarb. A few crops are grown for their large, edible flowers including broccoli and cauliflower but pollination is not involved.

Obviously, despite the AP’s claims, there are many crops which do not require bees for pollination thereby making the suggestion that without the little buzzers, we’re going to be reduced to a “glorified bread-and-water diet” totally preposterous.

In fact, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “About one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture."

Furthermore, this problem isn’t as new as the media would like you to think:

But even before this disorder struck, America's honeybees were in trouble. Captive colonies in the United States shrank from 5.9 million in 1947 to 2.4 million in 2005.

The number of bees is steadily shrinking because their genes do not equip them to effectively fight poisons and disease, experts say.

So, why the recent media fascination with bees? The website Ice Age Now thinks it could all be a way of diverting attention from the late-season freezes that have damaged crops all around the country (h/t NB member dscott).

Before you scoff, consider this:

And, this isn’t just a local problem, as “[a]n estimated 90% of Poland's fruit crop has been destroyed by late season frosts prompting some Polish farmers to commit suicide.”

With this in mind, as some have blamed the bee problem on global warming, and we do indeed appear to be destined to pay higher prices for a lot of different crops this summer due to late-season cold-snaps, isn’t it better for an alarmist media to focus attention on bees?

After all, wouldn't people like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore and his sycophant devotees rather American consumers think that higher produce prices and poor selections this summer were the fault of a dwindling bee population instead of the more factually accurate freezes that destroyed crops across the nation?

Think about it.

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