Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

SCIENCE, SOCIOLOGY, RELIGION => Science and Technology => Topic started by: Makini on July 02, 2009, 05:42:31 AM

Title: A world without bees
Post by: Makini on July 02, 2009, 05:42:31 AM
Yes the sum of the review on this book is ... but as they say this is and has been for the last couple of years 'food for thought'.

............Albert Einstein is thought to have said: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

In truth, it is more likely to have been French beekeepers who put these words posthumously into Einstein's mouth a few years ago during a fierce battle to get a pesticide (more of which later) banned from their country.

Whoever said it, the apocalyptic sentiment chimes with the view that bees are the "canary in the coalmine", a barometer for the health of the planet, and that their predicament is a warning to us all.

In the past two years, around a third of all honeybees in the States have mysteriously vanished -- around 800,000 hives. Some commercial beekeepers have reported losses of up to 90% since the end of 2006. The disappearance, which has baffled researchers and academics, is not limited to the States. Large numbers of colonies have also been wiped out in parts of Canada, Europe, Asia and South America. In Croatia, it was reported that five million bees disappeared in less than 48 hours.

Bees have a sophisticated navigation system that uses the sun and landmarks as points of reference. It allows them to travel up to three miles from the hive in search of food without losing their way back home. They are able to direct other bees in their hive to the food source through a remarkable form of communication called the "waggle dance".

But in a hive suffering from this strange plague, the adult bees do not return home, leaving their queen, eggs and larvae to starve to death. Moreover, young nurse bees, whose job it is to stay in the hive and care for the new brood while the adults are out searching for food, desert their post and fly away. Such a dereliction of duty is unheard of unless the bee is diseased and leaves the hive to prevent it from infecting others.

When news of the vanishing bees, a phenomenon soon dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), started to filter through in newspaper reports at the beginning of 2007, some of the more fanciful theories for their disappearance ranged from cell phones messing up their navigation system to an elaborate al-Qaida plot to wreck US agriculture.

Although no one knew for sure what was causing the bees to perish, it spurred the launch of a global investigation. More credible suspects included exposure to genetically modified crops, pesticide poisoning, invasive parasites, malnutrition from pollinating vast tracts of crops with little nourishment, and the stress of being moved long distances.........

- M -

Title: Re: A world without bees
Post by: SistaOracle on August 13, 2009, 06:01:47 PM
In England they are encouraging and going to start up a programme for people to Bee Keep in the inner cities and planting bee friendly flowers in communal and private gardens. maybe it's somthing we all need to take up.

Title: Re: A world without bees
Post by: Makini on August 14, 2011, 09:07:27 AM
Thanks Sista oracle, exactly two years late with this reply. Well I dont know if I'd get into bee keeping myself, but flowering plants on the whole interest me. I see there are less and less of trees fruiting everywhere. I remember as a child seeing mango trees flowering and the buzz of pollination taking place from all the insects flying around excitedly. People dont keep mango trees anymore. Too many leaves, too many thieves, all sorts of reasons, mostly no space and the roots can affect houses. For instance my neighbour complained about a tambarind tree that we have near the fence. The roots might never affect her as she is already in her 60's, but more her grandchildren, but no one gets to enjoy the tree because of the fear of the damage to her house, it has been cut down. I remember climbing our tambarind tree to shake the branches for tambarind so my granny could make tambarind stew and tambarind balls to sell and for snack.

To more recent things...I planted some jalapenos - that pickled pepper thats long and can be spicy that is most known on pizzas, just because the plant shop guy suggested them (no I dont take on all his suggestions, he tried to sell me strawberries too but I wasn't interested). I bought three plants, 50 cents each and put them in different places in the yard and they all grew well, and flowered white flowers and then the flowers died. The flowers appeared and died three times and there was no fruit. I spoke to someone who grows peppers and she said, well pollinate the flowers yourself, get a stick and tickle one flower and then another. I did! And then I got fruit! Well I appreciated for myself from my own experience what happens when there are no suitable pollinators. But after about 5 weeks, some wasps found the trees and started pollinating the jalapenos for me so nature took over nicely. Food for the wasps and food for me, for just 50 cents, I could not have been more pleased.

But the story gets better. I think the wasps were more interested in a bird pepper tree in the yard that happened to be flowering at the time after I hand pollinated the jalapenos, and by 'accident' the wasps stumbled on the jalapeno tree and pollinated them. I observed that the wasps spent more time around the bird pepper tree, maybe because there were more flowers, or maybe due to some chemical attraction. But no one at home planted the bird pepper tree and the variety of pepper it bears I've never seen nor does my father a man from the countryside know and I dont know the flavour of the bird pepper either. I can only assume a bird brought it there with bird poop as the tree is very near the wall where the birds poop. So I have to be thankful for the birds (as I really like eating these bird peppers) as well as the wasps. Funny enough, now the birds eat the jalapenos, on any other occasion I'd try to stop them but I am glad they can get something to eat and maybe they can poop on someone else property that might be happy to have a jalapeno plant and give food for some wasps some place else.

So yes bees are one pollinator, but there are so many others that we take for granted.

- M -