Will Mankind Be Extinct In Four Years If We Lose Our Honeybees?

Like most things in fashion — Crocs, reality shows, bad rap music - give it a few months and you will find it in Israel. Is the bee colony hype reported here on TreeHugger, just that? According the Jerusalem Post, Israeli beekeepers and the Agriculture Ministry's Beekeeping Division are making plans and provisions for an outbreak of Colony Collapse Disorder - that they report, has resulted in the mysterious deaths of 2.4 billion bee colonies and 10 billion bees in the US.

Citing Albert Einstein's saying to the effect that mankind would become extinct four years after honey bees disappeared from the face of the earth, Haim Efrat, head of the Beekeeping Division, said he'd rather sound the alarm than be complacent. "I don't mind if I turn out to be wrong and I say it clearly: We have Colony Collapse Disorder here in Israel. Though we are not even close to the problem they face in the US and Canada, tomorrow morning we could wake up to a severe case of the phenomenon."

Dan Weil, the honey and bees information manager at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, the biggest honey producer in Israel, says, "Besides the threat to honey production, the bee is know to be the main pollinate insect in nature, and without its services, as much as third of the crops we consume might collapse as well - foods such as almonds, corn, wheat, avocado, watermelon, apples, pears, cherries, seeds and more."

There are a variety of reasons why the bee populations may collapse. One of the most unusual reasons is that the bees' orientation skills can be thrown off due to interference with magnetic fields. Israel is one of the most dense countries in the world for cellular and magnetic fields.

Are we in trouble?

Israeli health food stores pride themselves on Israeli-made honey. A bio-organic kibbutz (Sde Eliyahu) where this TreeHugger once worked also prides itself on bees: it produces the Bio-Bee biological control product to aid fertilization of crops and minimize the use of pesticides. While the kibbutz and its company is totally legit, Bio-Bee bootleggers are everywhere in Israel — sticking their Bio-Bee stickers on heavily pesticized strawberries to mislead the public to believe that the goods are bio-organic. Honey production, crops and even Eco-Tourism relies on the bee industry in Israel (see the Honeybee guesthouse).

So far, reports the Jerusalem Post, Israel's honey and bees have suffered only slight damage. But beekeepers and the specialists at the Agriculture Ministry are worried. In recent years, they have reported a reduction of 25-30 percent in annual honey production. In addition, starting in the spring of 2005, there have been several reports of weakened beehives that displays symptoms compatible with CCD. ::Jerusalem Post

Tags: Bees | Israel