Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bee Colony Collapse Disorder, Again

I have been reading more articles on this frightening event.
The bee colonies are dying off. This often happpens with bee colonies, but it has never happened in this country to this extent. Some farmers have had as much as a 90 percent dieoff of their bees. These tend to be colonies that are shipped all over servicing farms with their pollinating insects. Our country seems to have built a huge dependence on bees.
Monoculture (The agricultural practice of planting a field or other land mass with a single crop) is not a good thing in a situation like this. We need to have many types of plants to keep wild pollinators available. Many insects act as pollinators. Wasps, flies, honeybees, butterflies, moths, as well as hummingbirds and many other creatures. When we encourage only one type of crop that utilizes only one type of pollinator, it leaves us vulnerable to this kind of catastrophe.
One of the ways Canadian farmers are dealing with this problem is leaving about a third of their fields fallow, encouraging habitat for native plants and pollinators. We should think about having as much diversity in our gardens as possible and trying very hard NOT to spray ANY toxins that can be harmful to our pollinators.
It's interesting that the North Eastern United States seem less vulnerable to this phenomenon due to the fact that our croplands are more diversified than the mid-west or California. So, we are encouraging other pollinators due to our lack of monoculture.
Here is a link to the Mississippi State University giving a broad overview of the problem.