The Silence of the Bees

I checked my bees today.   Wiped the first snow away from the entrance of their hive.  Not sure they are going to make it through the winter but I am trying to be optimistic.  

Then saw this article on the Bill Moyers site.   It’s from back in May when the European Union banned the pesticides that are the main culprit in the die off.   ” A [US] federal study attributes the massive die-off in American honey bee colonies to a combination of factors, including pesticides, poor diet, parasites and a lack of genetic diversity. ”    They left out the stress that most commercial hives are subjected to by being trucked around from mono-crop to mono- crop throughout the year.   True migrant workers.    And subjected to some of the same appalling conditions as their human counterparts.

“Poor diet”   may be  code for this phenomenon.   I think it is.   Bees are meant to live in one place gathering the pollen and nectar from that spot throughout the season.   The varied diet that keeps organisms healthy.  Not that I think that the pesticides and the lack of genetic diversity aren’t important factors, too.    But we all know that if you are stressed and poorly fed your immune system is not up to the job of fighting off the things in the environment that tend to make you sick.   This is what is happening to the bees.  

So my wild hive got as cushy a summer as I could give them.   I will feed them through the winter and hope for the best.


5 responses to this post.

  1. You have it right on bees. There was an error of ommission. Here in NE USA we have 275 native pollinators that are not the non-native honey bees. Creating habitat for these pollinators by making or buying native bee houses, we can recreate some of the habitat they are losing. It’s aburdly inexpensive and easy to do. The University of Maine has an informative page on the subject of native (co-evolved) bees and specific instructions on making native bee houses. For $10 or less you can make more than a dozen houses that could potentially create 4000+ bees. If these non native honey bees pass disease to native bees, THEN we have real trouble.


    • Thanks, David, I agree we need to protect and encourage native pollinators. I, however, need those non-native honeybees to pollinate the other non-native species with which they co-evolved. My apple trees. Not that native pollinators can’t/won’t/don’t pollinate my apple blossoms but the honeybees that evolved with the apple trees in Central Asia do a much more efficient job. I certainly hope that the various afflictions of the honeybees do not spread to native pollinators, I guess I trust nature to work her magic and not allow that inter species jump.


      • I have apple, peach, apricot, and plum trees here in Maine that get well pollinated in the absence of any significant honey bees. I had a bumper year in fact. Same goes for my wild highbush blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries etc. Honey bee’s necessity is over rated. Bees make honey. I get it. I was raised around beehives throughout my entire childhood and teen years. The risks may not be worth the reward if other pollinators are sacrificed. Be more worried about bumblebees, mason, osmia, beeflys and others. Losing them could crash the entire ecological web.

  2. Nature did not work her magic with dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, knoweed, garlic mustard, Asian long horn beetle, Japanese beetles etc. etc. It’s a long list.


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