Honey Bee

April 29, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I would like to take this opportunity to tout the amazing abilities and essential qualities of a NJ keystone species, the honey bee. These little drones not only underpin just about every other species on the planet because of their activities, they also form absolutely awe-inspiring complex societies. From navigation, communication, food synthesis and hierarchies, the common honey-bee has it all.

 keystone species is one that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment relative to its abundance. Without them, there would be both predictable and unpredictable catastrophic reverberations throughout the ecosystem. Think trophic cascade (see my past blog post re predators) and then square it once, then again and maybe 1 more time.

As you may be aware, the honey bee has been under siege for years with hive collapse being a common occurrence even with the most experienced bee keepers. The most up-to-date data points at both Varroa mites and Bayer’s neonicotinoid class of insecticides as the twin evils of hive death. And this is coming from a guy that has never considered man-made compounds, “chemicals” as people like to call them (every material by the way is a “chemical”), as anything better or worse than material that can be found in nature. What about asbestos (a naturally occurring silicate mineral)? Or...think of those nasty venoms or how about tannins  which occur in the essential (to me anyway) coffees and chocolates. Check out “POLLUTION, PESTICIDES, AND CANCER: MISCONCEPTIONS. Bruce N. Ames and Lois S. Gold.” at http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cpdb/pdfs/Angew.pdf for more on those nutty misconceptions linked to “chemicals”.  

In New Jersey, for those with 5 acres or more, bee keeping can be used as part of a comprehensive property management strategy that can lead to the obtaining of a farmland assessment and resulting tax reduction but this may not be enough. Government intervention is almost never a first/good choice but it may be 1 of our only potentially impactful options. Should a rebate or subsidy be given to commercial bee keepers? Think about the corn subsidy and its crazy domino effect on both the diet of Americans and industrial-farming environmental/human-health consequences. Is this really the answer? Maybe not but we need to get creative and we need to do it now.  It is time for us to help the honey bee. If we don’t , it is very likely we will be very sorry very soon.

 


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