This one wouldn’t get much press in the hyperactive MSM as it’s consequences aren’t easy, and don’t involve political foible. For the past 6-10 years the Honeybee population around the world has been dying off…
Sounds bad… but catastrophic?
Since about 80% of the pollination of crops is done by Honeybees – you betcha. The reduction in numbers of Honeybees means a massive reduction in the production of food per acre…
Meaning if the Honeybees die off… So do we humans in fairly short order.
Another mystery is the disappearance of small snakes, which one of my contributors, Nanakwame brought up a while back. The environmental impact of this isn’t understood yet. In the US, it seems that the common green and garter snakes have all but disappeared in some areas. I live on a lake, and this has resulted in an explosion of the frog population. I also found several dead baby Corn Snakes in the Spring – which is unusual. They are very good at keeping the rodent population down. I have no idea what is killing them – and I severely limit the type and amount of chemicals used on the property to protect the lake.
To those who go “ewwwwe” – it’s a simple fact that if you live on freshwater in the Southern half of the US – you have snakes nearby, whether you see them or not. Most are neither poisonous or harmful, and keep the insect and small rodent populations in check. Green Snakes eat insects, Garters eat frogs, and Corn Snakes eat rats and mice.
It has been one of the great murder mysteries of the garden: what is killing off the honeybees?
Since 2006, 20 to 40 percent of the bee colonies in the United States alone have suffered “colony collapse.” Suspected culprits ranged from pesticides to genetically modified food.
Now, a unique partnership — of military scientists and entomologists — appears to have achieved a major breakthrough: identifying a new suspect, or two.
A fungus tag-teaming with a virus have apparently interacted to cause the problem, according to a paper by Army scientists in Maryland and bee experts in Montana inthe online science journal PLoS One.
Exactly how that combination kills bees remains uncertain, the scientists said — a subject for the next round of research. But there are solid clues: both the virus and the fungus proliferate in cool, damp weather, and both do their dirty work in the bee gut, suggesting that insect nutrition is somehow compromised.
Liaisons between the military and academia are nothing new, of course. World War II, perhaps the most profound example, ended in an atomic strike on Japan in 1945 largely on the shoulders of scientist-soldiers in the Manhattan Project. And a group of scientists led by Jerry Bromenshenk of the University of Montana in Missoula has researched bee-related applications for the military in the past — developing, for example, a way to use honeybees in detecting land mines.
But researchers on both sides say that colony collapse may be the first time that the defense machinery of the post-Sept. 11 Homeland Security Department and academia have teamed up to address a problem that both sides say they might never have solved on their own.
“Together we could look at things nobody else was looking at,” said Colin Henderson, an associate professor at the University of Montana’s College of Technology and a member of Dr. Bromenshenk’s “Bee Alert” team.