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Environmentalism gets personal
March 31, 2005 2:20 PM   Subscribe

The little bug eats the bigger bug, and "[i]t's bad news for beekeepers, farmers and anybody who likes to eat." An invading parasite imperils the American honeybee -- and your fruit basket. In only six months "40 percent to 60 percent of the bees nationwide have perished". And "that, in turn, hampers production of about one third of the human diet, including almonds, apples, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, sunflowers, melons and cranberries."
posted by orthogonality (22 comments total)

 
combine that with higher prices on things already b/c of rising fuel costs, and it's looking pretty bad for the home team.

oh well, maybe this'll do something about the obesity problem in america: the no-eat, walk everywhere diet -- guaranteed to help you lose the weight and keep it off!
posted by lord_wolf at 2:28 PM on March 31, 2005


Damn you vampire mite! *shakes fist, shorts Tropicana*
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:29 PM on March 31, 2005


Sounds serious - another one of these crises which the average person will be oblivious to, aside from slightly higher prices for their favorite fruits and vegs. And I was just at the "bigger" link (bees) on an unrelated topic, how strange.

"It's not warm and fuzzy," said Hayes, the state apiary inspection chief. "It's not like a manatee. You can't cuddle and pet it."

Leaving aside the strange choice of a manatee for a warm and fuzzy comparison creature, I disagree - I pet honeybees and bumblebees whenever they will let me, they are soft and fuzzy, though I don't know for sure if bugs are warm. Cuddling also probably not happening with bees.

Lord_wolf, I'm afraid with no fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables, America may be forced to turn to junk food for its sustenance. A frightening scenario, to be sure, but at least it will break our reliance on Big Farmy.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:31 PM on March 31, 2005


I don't know for sure if bugs are warm.
You'd be surprised.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:34 PM on March 31, 2005


This is terrible. Little nasty things chewing away on baby bees...

It's like a braula gone bad.
posted by Specklet at 2:39 PM on March 31, 2005


Did you know that sometimes the little tiny black spots you see on yellow flowers are braula waiting to hitch a ride on a bee? If you put your hand over them, creating a shadow, they'll reach up and wave their legs around to grab onto your bee fur.

/derail

posted by Specklet at 2:42 PM on March 31, 2005


As long as we have the Soylent Corporation, we'll be fine.
posted by seanyboy at 2:56 PM on March 31, 2005


Well, this certainly is terrible news for me.

Seriously, though, this sucks. Bees are amazing. I stood near a hive for the first time last summer. I loved it.
posted by apis mellifera at 2:57 PM on March 31, 2005


Well little bugs have littler bugs
Up on their backs to bite 'em
And the littler bugs have still littler bugs
And so ad infinitum
posted by fixedgear at 3:18 PM on March 31, 2005


I started to beekeep as a weird therapy 2 years ago when I got divorced at 26. Anyway, after my bees died after the first winter (mice, my fault) then wax moths got em, I've decided to take a hiatus...despite not making "Bill's Bad Ass Brew" yet. It's very depressing to learn all about bees, see how adaptive they are and then realize that there is ALOT of stuff out there killing or causing problems. Until you've been around the cute swarming things you don't appreciate exactly what and how much they do to get you your food on the table!
posted by evilelvis at 3:29 PM on March 31, 2005


Mice killed your bees???
posted by BobFrapples at 3:31 PM on March 31, 2005


Were they vampire mice? How far does this conspiracy go?
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:47 PM on March 31, 2005


A Heinrich fan, sonofsamiam? I'm about halfway through Bumblee Economics myself. Fascinating read, as are all his books.
posted by DakotaPaul at 3:48 PM on March 31, 2005


They got in the hive, because I failed to protect the entrance, ate honey, probably bees, pooped, peed, nested, made a mess and drove them out or just over all made life so miserable they all died. I opened the hive up and I had like 4 of them in there and they little bastards wouldn't leave until I whacked at them with my hive tool. After seeing these field mice jump for their evil lives like no other, no wonder they were able to leap up onto my stand and invade! Poor bees.
posted by evilelvis at 3:55 PM on March 31, 2005


Metafilter: Shakes Fist, and Shorts Tropicana.
posted by Freen at 4:55 PM on March 31, 2005


Reminds me of the time a friend was showing off his new electron microscope (long story) and I went into the gravel driveway to find a specimen. I found a spider, a really tiny one, and we put it in the microscope. This super tiny spider had one of its knees infested with a cluster of super super tiny bugs.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:26 PM on March 31, 2005


This is spooky news, indeed.
posted by dejah420 at 9:40 PM on March 31, 2005


You can't fool me, StickyCarpet -- It's bugs all the way down.
posted by wolftrouble at 9:52 PM on March 31, 2005


It just doesn't seem to get any better for the american Honey Bee. I haven't read through all the links yet, so I don't know if it's mentioned, but do these little mites also attack African bees?
posted by OmieWise at 7:01 AM on April 1, 2005


These mites do seem to be different from the tracheal mites that my beekeeping friends have been concerned about for several years. I do think that Africanized and, perhaps, hybrid bees are not suceptible to the tracheal mites, but these little buggers seem like a nightmare. They do seem pretty easily treated, though, as the second link indicates. I wonder why more people aren't using the strips in the fall and spring. Maybe it's economics.
posted by OmieWise at 7:08 AM on April 1, 2005


OmieWise writes "do these little mites also attack African bees?"

Heh. Good question, and one that is not, I think, answered in any of the links.

But the mite is apparently from Africa itself, so I suspect that yes it does -- but that African bees, having a longer history with it, may have better defenses to it too.

Could we replace honeybees with more aggressive African bees, and what would be (no pun intended) the consequences? Very though-provoking question OmieWise, thanks.
posted by orthogonality at 7:13 AM on April 1, 2005


Varroa Mite Varroa Jacobsoni Most of the races of Apis mellifera are good hosts for the Varroa mite because of the length of the bees' pupa or post capping development time. This is typically about 12 days. In this time at least one mite can come to term in each cell. However, some races of A. mellifera (e.g., the African bee, A.m. scutellata and the Cape bee, A. M. capensis) have a shorter development time and fewer mites can come to maturity.

Honey Bee Tracheal mite Acarapis woodi

Yeah....different species.

Treatment: (old and not necessarily best article...however)...
"Research has clearly shown that most of our, problems in treating Varroa mites with Apistan result from the OVERUSE of Apistan thereby creating resistant mites, and the use of Apistan at the WRONG time of year to effectively kill Varroa mites. Applying Apistan strips in the fall and just leavings them in the colony until springs or any time frame longer than the suggested 6 weeks is just plain IRRESPONSIBLE and downright "illegal", because this long term constant exposure of the mites to the effective chemical in Apistan strips, fluvalinate, simply breeds mites resistant to death by Apistan treatments" (emphasis not mine)
So treatment problems (in 2000) could be sheeted home to ignorance moreso than anything else.


I know it's logical and of course needed, but renting out bees to ensure pollination still sounds funny.

{I noted in passing that intro. of African bee to the states is very contentious [as are all species translocation] - but I didn't really search - all the more room for another interested party}

Interesting post. Thanx.
posted by peacay at 8:41 AM on April 1, 2005


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