OK, heres something you need to think about. So far, CCD has been more of a media sensation than a grower or consumer problem (its always been a real beekeeper problem)...the press (including me) has made lots of noise about whats going on, what we think is causing the problem, and what scientists are trying to do to solve it.
So far, scientists have come up empty handed. Not one solution. Not one cure. Why? Well, after nearly a year the only real money that's been allocated to help has come from USDA emergency funds (thank you), and the industry. (Thank goodness for industry money. Without that wed all be dead in the water). Thats good, very good, but the Feds made lots of noise about saving the bees last year, saving the pollinators and doing right by America. So whats the hold up do you suppose? Why so long?
And, beekeepers havent been able to crack this nut either. But so far (thats last season folks, not this season) there have been enough bees. Enough bees to pollinate almonds, anyway.
But now theres more bees dying more beekeepers are having the problem this season, but because theres no money, theres no one officially counting. But my contacts tell me theres lots of colonies that are weak or dead and not in condition to pollinate.
Heres a real kicker.... now we cant get bees from Australia fast enough because the airplanes that fly them to the U.S. are having fire alarm problems with bees in the hold. The bees keep setting off fire alarms for crying out loud. The airline is trying to fix the problem as fast as they can and are switching planes with good fire alarms because they actually care about the bee problem, but you cant fly a plane with a fire alarm going off, no matter how much you care.
OK. Add this to the situation. Theres a machine that can tell beekeepers what problems they have what viruses, which Nosema disease -- the Army uses it to solve problems like SARES and the like. It can tell what viruses are in those dieing honeybee colonies. Researchers had to beg, borrow and steal (thats industry money, not grant money, not government money, not money from Congress) to get the money to buy one and put it at, of all places, the honey bee research lab at UC Davis, in the heart of almond country where all these bees are that are having problems. But get this - the UC Davis powers that be say no, we dont want it. Theres no benefit to us for having it here. Can you believe that? This machine is the size of a large microwave oven and UC Davis cant be bothered. Go figure.
Add one more tidbit. That I know of, at least two big queen-producing companies have retired this year. Combined, they produce something like 75,000 queens every year. Where will those queens come from this year? This isnt a CCD problem but where will those beekeepers with CCD get good queens to restock their colonies this season? At Pet Smart?
Folks, this season its real. Real people are being affected by this problem. Real bees are dying faster than anybody can count. Real scientists are running as fast as they can to figure it out. Real beekeepers are stacking empty boxes out in the field, afraid to put more bees back in them. Real almond growers are looking for bees. Real bees are sitting on tarmacs in Australia. Real bankers are worried that their usual loans are threatened. Real growers everywhere are wondering if they should even plant their crops this year because without bees its a waste of seed, fertilizer and water. Real bee supply companies are wondering if they should plan ahead for this year or put everything on hold. And one speaker at the Big Convention in Sacramento said it all.... there are real jobs waiting for us at Wal-Mart.
A good friend has said for years that what we need is a REAL honeybee pollination crisis to wake folks up. Well, this may be the season.... What happens when there arent enough bees?
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