The rapture of the bees

Honeybees are disappearing at a rapid rate in North America and Western Europe. 70% of bees along the East Coast of the USA have simply disappeared. Starting in November, the collapse has been sudden and catastrophic for northern beekeepers, and will be equally so for the crops that rely so heavily on bees to pollinate them.

The problem hasn’t (yet) hit South Africa, but has spread to South America as well. With little evidence, speculation has run rife over what could be the cause. Genetically-modified crops, cellphones, pesticides, inbreeding, viruses, fungicides, the dwindling variety of wild flower, and even ‘the rapture of the bees’ have all been cited as possible causes. As local blogger theantidote so aptly put it, ‘this seems to be a case of Bee Cluedo – Dr. Monsanto in the apiary with a Motorola 3116’.

With much of the focus on the breeding practices and genetic variation of US and European bees, it’s interesting that Rudolf Steiner, in a lecture in 1923, said that ‘that the modern method of breeding queens (using the larvae of worker bees, a practice that had already been in use for about fifteen years) would have long-term detrimental effects, so grave that: “A century later all breeding of bees will cease if only artificially produced bees are used”.’ Are we seeing the fulfillment of his prediction?

Local and international bloggers have been doing a great job of covering the story, although it’s been hard to find in the mainstream press. With most of the other pollinators sprayed into oblivion (so even if chemical farms aren’t directly responsible, they’re still responsible in an indirect way for some of the consequences – yet another reason to go organic), the disappearance of the honeybees could be one of the most important events in our lifetime.

And now for the good news. Local honey is in fine shape, and although it’s in great demand by the US and Europe, we still have a wide selection of raw honeys to choose from. Currently on offer is honey from Bloublommetjies, a biodynamic farm (one which uses principles first formulated by Rudolf Steiner), from Brian Docke, from Pixieland farm and from Honeywood.

Honey has many health benefits, and, amongst others, it has been credited with strengthening the immune system, improving digestion, lowering cholesterol, preventing colon cancer and being a great source of antioxidants. Perhaps less well known is that it’s a great antiseptic/antibacterial agent when applied topically to wounds and the like.

So what are you waiting for? To order, head on over to www.ethical.org.za, and to comment on this or any other topic, visit our blog, http://blog.ethical.org.za.

The Co-op team

Comments ( 3 )

  1. Anne

    For more info on the possible link between the silence of the bees and mobile phones, check out: http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2449968.ece

  2. Ethical Co-op » Blog Archive » Imidacloprid and the disappearance of the honeybees

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