Where have all the bees gone?
May 27, 2002 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Where have all the bees gone? Wild bee populations appear to be declining (members of a local naturalists' mailing list I subscribe to report seeing substantially fewer bumblebees in recent years), and domestic honeybees are susceptible to mites. Since one third of our crops require pollination, this is not just an environmental concern but also a very real threat to our food supply. Find out what's being done about it. Fascinating stuff, if a little frightening.
posted by mcwetboy (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Judging from my experience earlier this year, the world's entire bee population moved into my attic, where I would have left them alone and lived in harmony with them if the attic weren't also my family's bedrooms. Apparently, I've killed all the wild bees with potent and unpronouncable pesticides.

More seriously, though, is there more solid data than this conjecture about urbanized landscapes and a mite problem? Lay observation will tell anyone that bee populations are down -- I see them in the wild much less frequently than I did as a kid -- but what's doing them all in on such a massive scale?
posted by majick at 8:24 AM on May 27, 2002

Where have all the flowers gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.
posted by pracowity at 8:32 AM on May 27, 2002

Where have all the flowers gone?

(smacks forehead at the inadvertent reference)
posted by mcwetboy at 8:54 AM on May 27, 2002

Remember when killer bees were going to devour us all in their relentless journey northward? Take that, bees.
posted by holycola at 9:35 AM on May 27, 2002

Oh, they're still coming... Check out the map. Those bastards took Arizona!
posted by whatnotever at 9:42 AM on May 27, 2002

pollination? no problemo.
posted by quonsar at 10:29 AM on May 27, 2002

The decline of pollinators, not just honeybees, is a worldwide concern. Meanwhile, the same mite infestation bugs Africanized honeybees, slowing their advance for now even while ensuring their supremacy over the indigenous variety. Meanwhile bee labs are being closed, it's alleged, at the hands of the Bush administration. Some skeptics believe genetic trends attributable to conservation may actually be at fault.
posted by dhartung at 10:41 AM on May 27, 2002

The last bee is in a mason jar, in the basement, bee-ing guarded by Homer.

"I'm afraid Homer Simpson couldn't...BEE...here today!" - Smithers
posted by davidmsc at 12:32 PM on May 27, 2002

shit! bees in danger!
posted by pikachulolita at 12:42 PM on May 27, 2002

"i wore a beard of bees for that woman!"

i was thinking about it, and i'm pretty sure that there's always room for a bee joke. except for that stupid subway commercial.
posted by sugarfish at 12:45 PM on May 27, 2002

bees are on the what now?

(scroll down)
posted by dorian at 1:49 PM on May 27, 2002

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."

Fascinating article. I did away with any and all pesticides a few years ago but every year I see fewer and fewer bees, on my property, and just in general. I haven't seen a praying mantis in years, and hardly a ladybug. I'm not a kid who spends all day rolling around in the grass anymore, but still - you'd think you'd see one or two once in a while.
posted by iconomy at 5:49 PM on May 27, 2002

ico, I'm trying the same thing - after feeling guilty one too many times for poisoning anything and everything with diazinon, et al, I decided this year to go organic. The slugs in my yard (and the skunks who tear the lawn apart to eat them) have been very appreciative so far. Apparently, the army of nematodes I sent out hasn't engaged the enemy yet (or died in the process). Short-term failures notwithstanding, I'm sure that the efforts will bear fruit, so to speak, in the long term. (We still got bees, and all manner of birds, bugs and bunny-types, but I want to keep it that way).

Also, I haven't spent much time in the Southwest or on the west coast lately, but I thought that horny toads were similarly disappearing. Any reports from the field? (Hold the jokes, please.)
posted by yhbc at 6:40 PM on May 27, 2002

Apparently it's still true. This article claims that the problem is a takeover of the ant ecosystem by Argentine ants. Seems eating only this one species of ant provides the lizards with insufficient nutrition. But, apparently, that's only in California. In Texas and the Southwest, you've got fire ants, which I always heard just kill horny toads outright.
posted by furiousthought at 7:58 PM on May 27, 2002

If I had land, I'd raise bees. And bats. Maybe giant bat-sized bees.
posted by pracowity at 4:06 AM on May 28, 2002

Hey, pracowity -- better idea: how about dogs? Or bees? Or dogs that have bees in their mouth, and when they bark they shoot bees at you? :-)
posted by davidmsc at 8:52 AM on May 28, 2002

I too believe a large portion of said bees have moved into my yard and the external walls of my house.

"Theyyyy chosee meeeeeee"

There is never a bad time for a Simpons reference.
posted by glenwood at 10:27 AM on May 28, 2002

Oh yes.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:16 PM on May 28, 2002

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