When the spring finally rolled around this year I was living in Toronto and I told myself to stay on the lookout and try to consciously process the moment when I noticed my first bee of the season.
Alas, the first bee I did see was dead. Lying on the floor near the door that lead out to my luxurious outdoor patio. So in a pique of sentimentality I picked it up, and pinned it by one of its little wings to a bulletin board just above my computer. And for the rest of the summer I would often look up from my desk and stare at it with a sense of both melancholy and doom. Hoping against hope that it wasn't a harbinger of something truly awful on its way.
There probably aren't many subjects about which I know less than bees or beekeeping, and as you may have guessed I hadn't even thought about the subject at all (absolutely, positively nothing) until I first began reading about Colony Collapse Disorder some time over the winter. So far be it for me to wax authoritatively in this area. And I certainly had no idea the degree to which bees are vital and necessary to the food chain. But apparently - they are.
And apparently its real. .
Over 2006 and 2007, depending on which reports you read, anywhere from a quarter to a third to a half to even 60 to 70 % of America's (most of what I have read concerns America, though it has been reported in Canada and Europe) commercial honeybee population has simply died off and disappeared and scientists are still at a loss as to the definitive reason why.
Apparently, my favourite theory that it is all the result of cell phone use isn't very credible. (If only it were that straightforward, there was a world back before wireless).
Others suggest that the bees are being worked to death.
Others - parasites and/or pesticides. Global warming, or genetically modified crops.
What we can do for now is read. Often my solution to everything.
As is often the case I found the above cited Wikipedia entry on Colony Collapse Disorder to be quite informative and very well referenced.
The United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Library has this page linking to many articles on CCD.
This May 29 Salon Roundtable discussion with four beekeeper/scientist types is also valuable and gives much suggestion as to just how complex all of this might be.
And CCD was also recently featured on 60 Minutes.
Just in time for Halloween.