By William M. Dowd
I have been thinking about both the birds and the bees of late, and not at all in the amorous sense.
The birds continue flocking (no pun intended) to the feeders in the crabapple tree outside my kitchen window and in the seedless ash not far from my home-office window up here on Weathering Heights. Cardinals, blue jays, rose breasted grosbeeks, grackles, hummingbirds, mourning doves, finches, wrens, woodpeckers, titmouses (titmice, titmeese?), even the occasional wild turkey looking for an easy meal.
Bees, however, are a different story thanks to the mystery malady that is making entire hives of them disappear throughout the Capital Region and, indeed, everywhere else. It’s getting difficult not to be aware of the problem since it’s finally being reported in the mainstream media all over the globe of late. It’s a problem that apparently has been going on for several years in Spain where a mysterious disease has wiped out 40% of that country’s bee population. The same thing is happening in Canada’s New Brunswick Province where 45% of the hives have been depopulated.
The result could be catastrophic all up and down the food chain. Not only a lack of honey, but a lack of pollination usually carried out by the bees moving pollen from one place to another, thus re-seeding plants we need for survival.
No one is truly sure if there is a single cause of the dwindling bee population, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from theorizing. And the hypotheses range from one that says the varroa bee mite is killing off the honeymakers in such disparate places as New Zealand and Kentucky to one in Germany that says the proliferation of cellphones is the culprit.
In any casey, I find the bee thing particularly troubling because back in July 2005 I wrote elsewhere about the scarcity of such summer bugs as mosquitos and lightning bugs, a/k/a fireflies, a shortage I haven’t seen being alleviated by man or nature since then.
Like the canaries in the coal mine that once were used as a toxic gas early warning system for miners, the missing insects might be showing us something scary by not showing up at all.
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