Disappearing Disease

by Scott Smith

Everyone is talking about bees and how entire colonies are leaving their hives and disappearing, never to be seen again. Whatever is causing it has been known by a lot of names (including ‘disappearing disease’) but ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ seems to be the most widely accepted ‘official’ name for whatever it is. Quite honestly, this scares the bejeebers out of me. Its something I generally try not to talk about in front of my children because I remember being in middle school and being told by a teacher that when I became an adult I would have to have an actual wheel barrow full of money in order to buy one loaf of bread. I always took stuff like that to heart and generally suffered a lot of anxiety all through childhood. But, I digress.

There are several theories about why bees might be disappearing including global warming, genetically modified crops, pesticides, and neonicotinoids (now strictly limited in France because of their implication in the die off of bees). The general consensus is that whatever is killing them is a new threat, so it seems to me that traditional pesticides can be scratched from that list since, in reality we are probably using fewer of those now than we were back in the 1950’s and this die off is relatively recent (although not so recent that it shouldn’t have been getting more attention before now). The neonicotinoids are interesting though, because I think everyone thought that because it is derived from nicotine (so wonderfully natural) that we were using ‘safe’ chemicals, but, Mother Nature laughs at us as usual. While neonicotinoids are considered to be very safe for people we shoot ourselves (and our crops) in the foot because they are extremely harmful to pollinators like bees (suppressing their immune systems and leaving them susceptible to opportunistic diseases like mites and fungi). And, no pollinators, no food!

I’m hungry just thinking about it.

Washington Post article