Monday, July 14, 2014

Imagine a world without bees - By Harrison Wood

It's not so far reaching to imagine a world without bees. The real consequences aren't just going to be felt in higher food prices, but in the natural world where so much counts on the native trees and shrubs as well as the seed laden wildflowers to survive. And then imagine a Maine without wild blueberries and it hits closer to home. Not only do the bees of all sorts suffer through the Colony Collapse Disorder, but ultimately so will our birds and native mammals as well. Simply put, loose one species and they all suffer. I sense we're all at risk right now. Our native environment as we know it is at high risk.
And why you ask? According to a recent study by the Harvard University School of Public Health, it feels it has found a direct link with over use of a specific group of insecticides known as the Neonicotinoids, used extensively in agriculture primarily as a foliar application as well as in pet products. The next DDT some call it. It was first registered in 1994 under the trade name Merit and Advantage, known from the word go to be highly toxic and linked to neurotoxic reproductive problems and even a leading cause of mutagenic effects in bees and other beneficial insects.

At the same time after a large kill off of upland game birds in the mid-west it quickly became clear that the food chain had been invaded. Particularly worrisome is the fact that they are persistent in the soils where they can leach into unsuspecting garden areas. Even more poignant is the fact that they can also leach into ground water and wells.

The European Union isn't waiting, they have already declared a moratorium on the use of all Neonics. Germany and England have been particularly firm.

This group of insecticides in bees can cause disruptions in mobility and feeding behavior, their thinking and remembering abilities have known to become impaired, as well as a loss of their navigational abilities, any of which can have a direct effect on the long term survival of honey bee colonies, thus the term Colony Collapse Disorder.

We all know that bats are suffering their own separate unlinked battle in many counties in Maine, which report a complete collapse in the bat population brought on by a very specific destructive fungus, but now honey bees are in a dilemma of their own. Lose the bats and we lose natural control of small flying insects like the black flies, moths, as well as the mosquitoes. Without one element of the natural environment to help control the vectors of several diseases, we all are at risk.

What are these pesticides you ask and how can we help before it's too late? First and foremost stop using the associated pesticides. They include such things as Merit Lawn Care as well as products with Advantage. Products with Acetamiprid, Thiacloprid, even some of the synthetic pyrethroids sold as organically safe pesticides. In this case watch carefully for names like Bifenthrin, Fluvinate, and the most feared those with Permethrin.

Simply put, it's time not only to stop using the questionable pesticides, it also important that you avoid any of the local large box stores in southern Maine where items like potted vegetables have recently been tested and proven positive for having Neonicotinoids in their potted soils.

For some areas it may already be too late, but without bees the most notable part will be a vegetable garden with great plants and no vegetables. Think about it, no bees, no vegetables and then it will go from there.

For me, where I live, I have always had an abundance of different species of bees. Yet this season I have yet to see even a single one.

The loss of the bats and the bees a raises one important question, could this have been prevented?

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