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Reply #7: Hold the Phone, Bornagin, AZ honeybees are dying! It just started later! [View All]

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Dems Will Win Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-29-07 03:00 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Hold the Phone, Bornagin, AZ honeybees are dying! It just started later!
Edited on Tue May-29-07 03:00 PM by Dems Will Win
Mysterious bee deaths threaten agriculture
Corinne Purtill
The Arizona Republic

Apr. 16, 2007 12:00 AM

Beekeeper Dennis Arp pulled a sheaf of honeycomb from a hive in a Mesa citrus grove, shook off the bees and peered through his veil at the orange blossom honey oozing out.

This year, Arp's Mountain Top Honey Co. is on track to produce only about half as many bottles to sell at farmers markets around the state.

Arp's bees started dying in mid-November.

A mysterious disorder killing honeybees across the nation has spread to Arizona. And it's delivering another blow to the state's $11.8 million beekeeping industry, which was racked by Africanized bees and other pests in the mid-1980s and 1990s.

Up to 90 percent of the honeybees in commercial colonies from Pennsylvania to California are dying suddenly. No one knows why.

Fewer bees means less honey to sell and fewer colonies to rent to farmers who need them to pollinate their crops. Dead bees already cost local beekeepers thousands of dollars this winter in lost pollination opportunities.

On a grander scale, the bee die-off poses major threats to agriculture. Up to one-third of the nation's food supply depends on bee pollination.

No one in the state is tracking the problem, and beekeepers say they feel helpless against the threat to their livelihoods.

Arp, 55, had planned to rent 1,000 colonies to California almond growers at $135 per colony. Practically overnight, he had fewer than 700 available - a loss of roughly $40,000.

"The only thing I had to do was put them on a truck, get them to California and they would have made it," Arp said, pumping a can of smoke to mollify the buzzing worker bees clinging to the hive. "But they didn't. They died."

The first reports of what is being termed colony collapse disorder surfaced on the East Coast in October. Reports of commercial bee colonies dying off en masse spread westward across the country. It also has been seen in Canada and parts of Europe.

Researchers do not yet know what is killing the bees. Stress, parasites, disease, pesticides and a lack of genetic diversity are all being examined as possible causes.

"If it keeps at the pace that it's going, in terms of how many bees are dying off, it could be huge," said Julie Murphree, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Farm Bureau. "You just could not endure this level of die-off in the colonies and then expect that we could have the same level of pollination."

Impact on agriculture

Dying bees could mean big trouble for agriculture in Arizona and beyond.

There are about 50 commercial beekeepers in Arizona, according to the state Department of Agriculture. A number of crops grown here depend on bees for pollination, including melons, squash, cucumbers and vegetable seed crops. Many beekeepers also raise bees for honey production.

Bee pollination is valued at roughly $15 billion annually in the U.S., according to a report about colony collapse disorder prepared for Congress. There are more than 2 million commercial bee colonies nationwide.

Bees pollinate alfalfa fed to cattle, as well as crops used for biodiesel.

It's not yet clear if colony collapse disorder will affect grocery prices. Although bees were far scarcer this year, Arizona farmers were still able to get the bees they needed to pollinate their crops. But rental prices were about three times higher than they were just a few years ago because of the bees' decreased supply.

Searching for answers

Colony collapse disorder is the latest in a string of problems to strike commercial bee colonies nationwide.

Mite infestations decimated colonies in the mid-1980s and then again in the 1990s. Africanized, or "killer," bees have infiltrated commercial colonies, producing a breed of bee that is too aggressive to work with.

But local beekeepers say that colony collapse disorder is one of the biggest crises they have ever faced. And, they say, there is no one to turn to for help.

"I thought we had a problem with mites," said Delmar McCann of Uncle Mac's Honey Co. in Laveen. "But compared to this, they're nice little fellers."

The Arizona Legislature deregulated the bee industry in the mid-1990s. As a result, the Arizona Department of Agriculture does not have the resources or authority to investigate colony collapse disorder, spokesman Ed Hermes said. No central agency is tracking reports of colony collapse disorder in Arizona.

Most of the research on colony collapse disorder is being done by a group of researchers, bee specialists and government officials based on the East Coast. Officials from that consortium testified before Congress late last month to ask for funding to investigate colony collapse disorder.

Arizona beekeepers say they need help - soon.

"Our researchers don't seem to be on top of (this) at all," said Kenneth Orletsky, beekeeper and former president of the Arizona Beekeepers Association. "I'm a very, very strong conservative. I don't want government in my business. (But) there are times when we the people choose to have help."

Arp bought new bees to replenish his losses. Last week he introduced the new queen bees to his hives in hopes his colonies will regenerate.

"I don't have all the answers," he said. "Really, I don't think anybody does."

Reach the reporter at corinne .

What say you now, BornAgin?? There were no reports because there was no place to report and track them!! (Problem = Republican deregulation)
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