Wednesday 20 October 2010

To bee or not to bee.

I have gone Kindle mad! 

You may remember my previous post about purchasing an Amazon Kindle electronic book. Well I have started to read some of the classics again, just because they are a free download from Amazon. But mainly because the Kindle is a new gadget that is easy to use and easy to read.

I started out with "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Soon followed by "Blood Sweat and Tea" by Tom Reynolds. Blood, Sweat and Tea is a collection of Tom Reynolds favourite posts from his blog, Random acts of reality. The Real Life Adventures in an Inner-city Ambulance driver.

Time to go off at a tangent, as I rummage around in the old and failing memory box to find a few of the last grey cells that are still working! Today was wet and miserable - as usual, nothing out of the ordinary there then.

However, I noticed a few bees were still busy working the last of this years garden flowers. It's October, soon the hives will batten down for the winter. The majority of the workers will die and a skeleton crew will maintain the hive over winter. Keeping everything ship shape and preparing the hive ready for the spring.

Years ago, I used to keep a few bee hives in my back garden between the greenhouse and the hedgerow. I quite liked messing around with them - and I have always enjoyed honey. However, one day my next door nosy parker spotted them whilst cutting back my hedge! Well, to be honest the bees actually spotted him and nailed his arse. This was the starter for his never ending winding up of everyone else in the district in his anti bee crusade.  After a fair few complaints from people living around me, I eventually gave up keeping them.

Is there anyone who has never complained about a few wasps and bees being a problem. Yes, I know they are pesky little critters, they do like to join us for a meal now and again. But then, we need to realise that our world would soon collapse around our ears without their essential work.

The European Commission has approved programmes to improve the production and marketing of honey and apiculture products. This is a positive measure because the EU has recognised the vital role of honey bees not just for the production of honey, beeswax and other products, but also their role in pollination. It is estimated that over a third of the food we eat depends on pollination and with the ever-increasing world population we shall increasingly rely on the pollination services provided by bees. It has been estimated that insect pollination contributes over £150 billion per year to the global economy through agriculture. A reduction in pollination would mean that foreign fruit and vegetables would have to be imported at a higher cost.

Since 2006, large-scale losses of bee colonies in various parts of Europe, North America and Asia have served to highlight the 20,000 species of bees’ essential role in our ecosystems as key pollinators of wild plants and crops. This has also served as an eye-opener on how little we know about diseases that affect these insects and how changes to global farming practices can affect the fragile balance not only of pollinators but of whole ecosystems.

In the US the problem has been most acute with over a third of bee colonies failing to survive the winter. The exact reason for these losses (termed as colony collapse disorder) is still unknown, however, the attributable causes vary from viral and bacterial infections, irresponsible use of pesticides and destruction of bee foraging areas from over-development to loss of floral abundance and diversity due to intensive farming methods.

There is much to learn about this small insect, but one thing is certain – the decline of the honey bee is not a myth and it is a problem that we need to sort out very soon.

Later ....

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