|THE BEES NEEDS/HONEY BEES ARE MYSTERIOUSLY VANISHING ACROSS THE COUNTRY|
|Written by Marjorie Holt|
|Tuesday, November 4 2008|
Do you like apples? How about cucumbers, broccoli or onions? Pumpkins, squash or carrots? Blueberries, avocados, almonds or cherries? These crops and many others can't grow without honey bees, and a mysterious die-off of these hard-working pollinators could put $15 billion worth of U.S. crops at risk -- not to mention put a damper on your diet.
Urge the Agriculture Department to act now and research ways to save our bees and crops.Beekeepers sounded the alarm about disappearing bees in 2006. Seemingly healthy bees were simply abandoning their hives en masse, never to return. Researchers are calling the mass disappearance Colony Collapse Disorder, and they estimate that nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the country have vanished.
Why are the bees leaving? Scientists studying the disorder believe a combination of factors could be making bees sick, including pesticide exposure, invasive parasitic mites, an inadequate food supply and a new virus that targets bees' immune systems. More research is essential to determine the exact cause of the bees' distress.
Department of Agriculture Fails to Act
Bees play a central role in our food supply, but the federal government has yet to take sufficient action to protect them. The government recognizes cows, pigs and corn as agricultural commodities, but not the critical honey bees. Although Congress has begun to act on the issue, research on the bees' disappearance is still lacking.
In 2007, Congress recognized Colony Collapse Disorder as a threat and granted the U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency funds to study honey bee disappearances. In addition, the 2008 Farm Bill grants the Department of Agriculture $20 million each year to support bee research and related work.
But the Department of Agriculture has yet to produce significant results.
Protecting honey bees is a crucial part of this agency's responsibility. The Department of Agriculture should be held accountable for the funding it has received and should provide a complete report of its progress on solving the problem of colony collapse disorder.
Bee Friendly, Bee Safe: Here's How
You can also help keep bees healthy by making your yard and garden colorful, diverse and pesticide free. Here are some tips on how you can Bee Safe:
Bee Native: Use local and native plants in your yard and garden. These plants thrive easily and are well suited for local bee populations, providing pollen and nectar for bees to eat.
|Last Updated ( Wednesday, November 5 2008 )|
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