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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Fruitless Fall: Book Review

I've just finished Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the coming agricultural crisis, by Rowan Jacobsen. I found the book a fascinating look into the rise of Colony Collapse Disorder, Jacobsen explains a good deal about hive development, the life cycle of the Honeybee, the role of pollinators and their importance in the production of food, and of course the ecological and economic implications of a total collapse of the Honey bee.

The Author spends a great deal of time explaining and critiquing the various theories for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and comes to show that no one theory can be pinned down as the definitive answer yet many of the problems discussed are overlapping issues each adding another level of stress to the hives until they break down in total collapse. Mankind is poisoning the land and hence the bee hives with pesticides, we are breaking the natural cycles of the hives by such actions as feeding them sugar to keep them active and breeding out of season, shipping them across the continent to overwinter and pollinate for pay, forcing them to conform to presized uniformed brood cells contrary to their natural order, and feeding them on monoculture and/or months of unnatural sugar feeding which leads to malnourished and immune suppressed hives. Once hives are too weakened and stressed they more easily fall prey to parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungus or simply become so stressed they lose the cohesive hive mind and collapse.

A great many people accept that peak oil will hurt us eventually, some saying within years others in a decade or two. A majority believe that global warming needs to be tackled immediately but realize that the biggest effects are from decades to a century out. CCD is here now and if the collapse continues at the current rate in another year or two we could lose the majority of our commercial pollinators. Such a loss will mean commercial fruit and nut production will be wiped out, vegetable yields will drop, as will some types of forage. Various animals, birds, and other insects reliant on wild fruits and nuts could also suffer food loss and population declines. Various keystone species could be lost causing unforeseen consequences.

Unless we want to follow the Chinese example of having children pollinate fruit trees using homemade dusters made of feathers and cigarette filters, or that of Mexican Vanilla growers who have to pollinate each and every flower with toothpicks, we need to address many of the issues stressing our most valuable pollinators. In the mean time stop spraying your yards and plant nectar and pollen rich indigenous plants in order to support the myriad of wild pollinators that stand between us and starvation.

Of course the collapse of pollinators could also lead to a major collapse of human populations which in the long run might make peak oil and global warming a moot point. So never mind, don't read this book it's not important, we could use a good culling.Recommend this Post


Theresa said...

We could liken the earth to a beehive and note that humanity itself is in the midst of a colony collapse disorder. Many humans seem to have lost their collective mentality long ago. If only we would take the bees' situation seriously and truly address the factors that are contributing to their, and our, demise.

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