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Saturday, May 05, 2007

What is happening to the bees?

I've resisted talking about this because one shouldn't jump on every blogging bandwagon, but scientists are growing alarmed about a drop in the number of honeybees. This isn't National Enquirer-type stuff, but something to frighten the folks at CNN:

Honeybees do not just make honey; they pollinate more than 90 of the tastiest flowering crops the country has.

Among them: apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash and cucumbers. And lots of the really sweet and tart stuff, too, including citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.

In fact, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees. So if the collapse worsens, Americans could end up being "stuck with grains and water," said Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for USDA's bee and pollination program.

"This is the biggest general threat to our food supply," Hackett said.

While not all scientists foresee a food crisis, noting that large-scale bee die-offs have happened before, this one seems particularly baffling and alarming.

U.S. beekeepers in the past few months have lost one-quarter of their colonies -- or about five times the normal winter losses -- because of what scientists have dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder.

Not much in the way of colony collapse yet in Connecticut, according to the Courant. And perhaps this was inevitable: some Christians are connecting this to end-time prophecies of famine in the Book of Revelation.

Something to pray about...

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