Where Have All the Bees Gone?

They’re dead. Well, not all of them – but give it ten years. Please don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean to turn my blog into a consistent rant about environmental issues. I will only do that occasionally. This is one of those occasions.

In researching for the third book of the Akasha Series, ‘Fire’, I came across the plight of bees and will of course, highlight this in the book. So of course, I turned to Claudia Christian, author of the Alex the Fey Series, organizer of Twitter bookmarket chats, resident of my home state of Colorado, and beekeeper. Soooo many reasons to love this lady!

Anyway, on to the bees:

Question 1 – What is the cause of the disappearance of bees?

Claudia: It’s the pesticide. Period. The pesticide weakens the bees’ immune system so they are susceptible to all kinds of disease. People can’t say it’s the pesticide because the creator (Bayer) is protected by their employees (Congress). It’s a very frustrating situation especially when they banned the pesticide in France and the “mysterious” disease disappeared.

Question 2 – Is the problem growing or decreasing?

Claudia: The problem is growing. It’s hard to conceptualize but it’s not just bees. It’s all pollinators – wasps, hummingbirds, and bats are also ‘mysteriously disappearing.’ For example, there used to be many thousands of varieties of wasps in the US. These wasps have died out. Now there’s only a handful of the most aggressive forms of wasps live in the US. Another example is that the Bumblebee is expected to be extinct in the next 10 years. Further, the bat populations have declined at alarming rates. We hear about bees because they have ‘keepers’, but every pollinator on the continent is at risk.

Question 3 – Have you experienced these issues with your bees?

Claudia: Yes, we’ve been beekeepers for more than 10 years. The first 3-4 years were easy years. We had hives at 3 or 4 locations including my in-laws house in Durango, CO. Then it started, slowly at first, we saw some aggressive changes in our bees. We brought them back to our house and hive after hive died. We did everything we could think of, talked to everyone we knew, but fumbled over and over again. For the last 3-4 years, we’ve replaced hives almost every year. We lost all of our hives last year. Our healthiest hive was attacked by an aggressive feral hive (think about the wasp situation) and decimated. This is new behavior for honeybees, but not unheard of. I found beekeepers all over the country talking about this new aggressive robbing behavior.

Question 4 – Why are bees so important to the Earth’s ecosystem?

Claudia: Ok, think of it this way. Once upon a very, very long time ago, there were coniferous trees. They were fertilized by the wind. In somehow, some way, the ancestral bee was created. This bee and those who came, long before the alligator or the roach, created every single flowering plant in the world. Every. Single. Flowering. Plant. was created by the bee. Bats, hummingbirds, and the rest of the pollinators came after the humble bee created flowering plants to sustain them.

So, are honey bees important? Only if flowers are important, only if vegetables and seeds are important.

Question 5 – What would be your suggestions to helping Earth’s ecosystem by way of ‘bee’?

Claudia: Fix campaign finance. Seriously. I don’t mean to get all political, but Bayer owns Congress to the extent that at the Congressional hearings on CCD, researchers are not ALLOWED to mention the possibility that the pesticide is responsible for the death of pollinators in the US. And the first hear was AFTER the pesticide was banned in France and other European countries – and the bees had returned!

So… what do you do with that? The FDA and USDA are owned by Bayer. Congress is owned by Bayer.

And we continue to talk about it as if it’s a ‘bee’ problem.

So there you have it! The bee, *ahem*, pesticide problem. As with many other environmental issues, politicians and large corporations block the solutions. So what can we do about it? Make it an important topic with your local government representatives and in this year’s elections. Write congress, spread the word, buy organic. Get out there and save the bees! I need them for my stories…

A few extra websites that offer solutions are:

http://thehoneybeeconservancy.org/act-today-2/act-today/
http://www.helpthehoneybees.com/
http://www.buzzaboutbees.net/save-the-bees.html
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Help-Save-Bees/104550740016?sk=wall

About Claudia:

Claudia Hall Christian is the author of the romantic serial fiction Denver Cereal, Ft. Worth’s hottest mystery, The Queen of Cool, and the fast paced Alex the Fey thriller series. She is the founder of the Open Grove and the Twitter chat #bookmarket.

She writes books and keeps bees in Denver, Colorado.

Connect with Claudia at her website, on Twitter, or on Facebook.

4 thoughts on “Where Have All the Bees Gone?

  1. Good post, it’s great that so many people are aware of the ‘bee problem’. As a beekeeper, I hope that the honeybee doesn’t disappear altogether. I listened to a talk by Dr Stuart Roberts of Reading University at my beekeeping federation’s ‘Beekeepers Day’ last weekend. He explained that the cause of insect pollinator decline is multifactorial: monoculture, pesticides, long-distance migration (ie boring diet, pollution, too much travel), which has weakened bee immune systems and left them vulnerable to parasites and diseases. On top of this, most experts agree that loss of habitat is the biggest cause of bee decline and we can all help bees by planting insect-pollinator friendly plants in our gardens. The link to Dr Roberts paper publishing four years’ research into the decline of insect pollinators in the UK and Netherlands is here: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/313/5785/351.abstract

  2. we can all help bees by planting insect-pollinator friendly plants in our gardens.

    What kind of plants?

    What pesticide is it that is killing the bees.

    I had heard of the traveling beekeepers weakening the bees when they are taken from field to field but beyond that I don’t know anything about how to help.

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