Where Have All the Bees Gone?"
By Becke Davis
"Winnie-the-Pooh sat down at the foot of the tree, put his head between his paws and began to think.
First of all he said to himself: "That buzzing-noise means something. You don't get a buzzing-noise like that, just buzzing and buzzing, without its meaning something. If there's a buzzing-noise, somebody's making a buzzing-noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing-noise that I know of is because you're a bee."
Then he thought another long time, and said: "And the only reason for being a bee that I know of is making honey."
Ever since A.A. Milne's tales of Winnie-the-Pooh were published more than half a century ago, Pooh's adventures with bees have made the honey bee more of a familiar face than a menace with a sharp sting. In the real world, some people are concerned that declining bee populations may mean that the only knowledge of bees future generations have will be in the pages of books.
Where have the bees gone, and how does their decline affect us? While the average person knows that bees make honey, they may not be aware that bee play an important role in the food supply. According to a report in Science Daily, "Bees. . .are essential for the pollination of over 90 fruit and vegetable crops worldwide , with the economic value of these agricultural products placed at more than $14.6 billion in the U.S. In addition to agricultural crops, honey bees also pollinate many native plants within the ecosystem." 1
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1 "Bee Colony Collapse Disorder and Viral Disease Incidence Under Investigation," Science Daily, April 24, 2007, adapted from a news release issued by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health
2, 4 "Scientists at a loss as bees disappear across the nation," by Byron Crawford, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, May 11, 2007
3 "Experts may have found what's bugging the bees," by Jia-Rui Chong and Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2007
5 "Loss of bees threatens a fatal sting for us all," by Julie Deardorff, Chicago Tribune, April 7, 2007
6 Prepared Testimony of Diana Cox-Foster, Professor, Department of Entomology, The Pennsylvania State University, before the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture on Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bee Colonies in the United States," March 29, 2007
7 Statement of May R. Berenbaum, Professor and Head, Department of Entomology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Chair, Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America Board on Life Sciences and Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council and The National Academies before the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture, Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture on Colony Collapse Disorder in Honey Bee Colonies in the United States, March 29, 2007, www7.nationalacademies.org
First published in The Landscape Contractor magazine, July 2007