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Are Bees the Next Mass-Extinction Species?

Bumblebee_3 "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."  - Albert Einstein

I have a friend, a physician here in San Francisco, who lost both his hives of Italian honeybees to Colony Collapse Disorder and he was just as mystified as everyone else by this phenomena in which outwardly healthy colonies of bees suddenly disappear leaving behind a few, sick bees.  The Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium has been active in sounding the alarms and acting as a clearinghouse for breaking information.

From their home page:

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the name that has been given to the latest, and what seems to be the most serious, die-off of honey bee colonies across the country. It is characterized by, sudden colony death with a lack of adult bees in/in front of the dead-outs. Honey and bee bread are usually present and there is often evidence of recent brood rearing. In some cases, the queen and a small number of survivor bees may be present in the brood nest. It is also characterized by delayed robbing and slower than normal invasion by common pests such as wax moth and small hive beetles.

And this is serious stuff.  We rely on bees for far more than people realize, Kevin Hackett of the USDA states,

Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of the nation's honeybees could have a devastating effect on America's dinner plate, perhaps even reducing us to a glorified bread-and-water diet.

Honeybees don't just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops we have. Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect- pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, we could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.

    "This is the biggest general threat to our food supply," Hackett said.

I recall seeing a story on the 11 o'clock news that farmers, who annually rent hives in order to pollinate their crops, were worried that there would insufficient hives available and their crops would suffer.  Other articles have tried to downplay the risk by noting that farmers have other "pollinators" such as bumblebees and wasps.

But now it appears that the bumblebees are starting to turn up missing as well.  Robbin Thorp, an emeritus professor of entomolgy at University of California-Davis, is worried for one,

He fears that the species - Franklin's bumblebee - has gone extinct before anyone could even propose it for the endangered species list. To make matters worse, two other bumblebee species - one on the East coast, one on the West - have gone from common to rare.

Professor Thorp reported finding only one solitary worker all last year along a remote mountain trail in the Siskiyou Mountains and has been unable to locate any this year.
Unfortunately, the loss of bumblebees is even more problematic.  The UK Guardian reports,

But if bumblebees were to disappear, farmers and entomologists warn, the consequences would be huge, especially coming on top of the problems with honeybees, which are active at different times and on different crop species.

Bumblebees are responsible for pollinating an estimated 15 percent of all the crops grown in the U.S., worth $3 billion, particularly those raised in greenhouses. Those include tomatoes, peppers and strawberries.

Demand is growing as honeybees decline. In the wild, birds and bears depend on bumblebees for berries and fruits.

Just last month a critical breakthrough was made by a team led by scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, Pennsylvania State University, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, University of Arizona, and 454 Life Sciences who found a significant connection between the Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) and colony collapse disorder (CCD) in honey bees.

IAPV, an unclassified dicistrovirus not previously reported in the U.S. that is transmitted by the varroa mite, and Kasmir bee virus were only found in CCD hives. The researchers report that IAPV was found in all four affected operations sampled, in two of four royal jelly samples, and in the Australian sample. KBV was present in three of four CCD operations, but not in the royal jelly. One organism was significantly correlated with CCD: finding IAPV in a bee sample correctly distinguished CCD from non-CCD status 96.1 percent of the time.

"This is a powerful new strategy for looking at outbreaks of infectious disease and finding cause. Dr. Cox-Foster recruited us into this project, making a persuasive case for applying our state-of-the-art methods for differential diagnosis of infectious disease in humans, to this challenge in agricultural epidemiology," said Dr. Lipkin. "The profound synergy within the group--bringing entomology, microbiology, and bioinformatics together--enabled us to work toward a solution to this extraordinarily complex problem."

Although IAPV is certainly a much needed new tool for identifying those colonies at risk for collapse, it's not the entire answer and this whole problem is indicative of the delicate ties binding all of life together here on Earth.

Posted by Garth Sullivan.



This apparent quote from Albert Einstein needs some clear lineage.

It seems that no one can pin it down.

If you have a source I would really like it. Otherwise it might be an urban legend.


in answer to the question regarding the quote...

its not an urban legend. just think about it. bees are responsible for polination = our crops. if there are no bees, there are no crops = there is no meat (cows and other animals are vegetarian)

those will wipe out
and the carnivores will eat each other out
then there are only fish which is at an alarming rate of extinction as well

add it all up. humans are left = we all die from no food.

Albert einstein is no botanist so i don't know how he would know that and by the way if it isn't an urban legend than why does it say it is undetermined and by the way no crops does not equal no meat

If the bees are gone, then what will that do to our crops, fruits vegetables, and grains?

Snopes says it is unconfirmed as an urban legend.

What do you think would happen if the bees were extinct?

Einstein understood the connection with bees navigation & the Magnetic lines of the earth (which have been weakening lately)..There'salso another connection he might have been on to with the equivilent of human alzheimers among bees thx to Monsanto's GMO corn...

During the summer- the bees have enough protein to tolerate the immune 'sneeze' response- and still learn navigation ... BUT during the winter when protein ( pollen) is in rather short supply in the hive- bees had evolved a survival response. IF a bee's immune system was threatened in Winter - then the hive was best served if it was eliminated. The way this works - is that the protein normally invested in learning and remembering complex navigation requirements- has gone into immune reaction- and so - those bees - immune challenged - get lost trying to get back to the hive.

By theway, this is the link to the second part of thelast comment..

I've been researching this for a while..If you take the time to understand that our memory isn't in the brain,but in the Torus shaped electromagnetic or morphogenetic field surrounding us.. Then you can understand that we are a field of memory. IN-FORMATION.
If microwave frequecies from wireless technology, microwaves, aluminum & the charge held by gmo food with manipulated dna, continue to interfere destrucively with our fields we will come to the same Alzheimers type state.
Nikola Tesla (The one whos name should be more widely known than Einsteins)
said this would eventually happen IF we didn't work with the laws of nature.

Whoa whoa whoa, N1tro. I think you are reading Einstein rather anachronistically. He died in Princeton in 1955. The plate tectonic theory was not developed or published until the late 1960's. This is the theory which could have given Einstein the foundational understanding to make assertions regarding the relationship between magnetic polarity and bee navigation. Although I do believe Einstein to have essentially redefined the term genius, I think it is important that you understand the limitations of him and his time.

Second, there is no way that Einstein was onto some relationship between Alzheimer's and genetically modified corn (Mansonto's variety notwithstanding). You are once again taking an anachronistic look at the problem. If you want to understand a scientist of the 20th century, you have to look at him/her in the intellectual milleu of the time. It is not alright to simply assume that the scientist had posited a problem a decade before the scientist had the intellectual tools to pose the problem.

As far as the cause is concerned, the message that the death of bees would be devastating is best served by avoiding this quote altogether. It does nothing to further inform the people of the impending problem. Further, the legitimacy of the quote leads to comment threads like this one, where people battle over who did or didn't say said quote. If you want to discuss a problem of bees, then don't consult the physicist who published no work in entomology. If you really care about the problem, read some journal articles by the biologists who are actually studying the bee hive collapse phenomena.

It seems that the origin of this quote can be traced to 1994 during a beekeepers strike in the Belgium. The beekeepers make a rather strong but shallow move by writing or digging up some quote that presents the seriousness of the beekeeper profession and then contributing it to Einstein. Now, If I was a beekeeper interested in keeping my living, I would probably say some pretty strong, though stupid things. All the same, I am a little upset that they have not retracted the statement despite their failure to provide the source of the quote. In "Einstein, his life and universe (2007)," Walter Issacson makes no mention to the quote and has later quoted that he knows nothing about it. If the world's leading Einstein scholar has no proof of this quote, how can you assume that some newspaper in Brussels knew about the quote 15 years ago. Please stop perpetuating some silly anecdote so that we can begin discussion of the real issue.

Sure, Snopes has the legitimacy of the quote listed as "undetermined," but there is an historic question which arises. If an event is not documented, did it really happen (although I am obsessed with philosophy please don't begin some philosophical debate here) and do we really have the capacity to comment on it? If your answer to this problem is "yes," then you would most likely make a terrible historian. Please avoid the field. It seems that the quote is left "undetermined" because Einstein has not been able to comment on it. That is the problem with quotes antedating the speakers.

Wow, N1tr0. Our Memories aren't actually in our brains? They aren't stored in the billions of cells, the same storage system that is being used to develop next generation organic computers? I would really like to see where you got this data. No doubt, you have photos from a mass spectrometer to show exactly what structures in the brain are causing the generation of these magnetic fields. I agree with you. There is no way that these distortions in the magnetic field are caused by something other than our memories.

Are you kidding me? Sure it is a very interesting idea philosophically, but scientifically it is bullshit. There has not been a single peer-reviewed paper that has published this finding. An article on the blog of some "self-educated" astro-geologist does not a legitimate source make.

Let me guess, we are all going to die in 2012 because Niberu will make itself known to us, and the omniscient denizens of that planet will annihilate us. Seriously, N1tr0. Take 30 minutes educating yourself on exactly how to look up data on the internet. You might actually vomit out something intelligent. On the off chance that you lack the willpower or capacity to better your understanding of data collection, just stop posting. You confuse uninformed people with your babbling.

Also, I always wondered why I couldn't remember my name when I walked into an MRI room. Turns out you knew it all along. You should send this data to Cal Tech. I am sure that they would love to hear about you pseudo-scientific experiments.

what a bunch of geeks. Get a life, really.

Are people preserving the DNA (for cloning) of species that are facing extinction?

what bee is used for the picture. i've been trying to learn more about it but i don't know the species

We support your message, and wish to share new bee-e-info Thanks, for the great image.
In the spirit of sustaining the bees!
Roberta Shoemaker-Beal, eco-art therapist and and Jim Beal, retired NASA specialist in EMF studies!

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