An interesting article from the New York Times about the possible culprit behind the colony collapse phenomenon that has been killing the bees. This has been a problem for the last four years, where anywhere from 20% to 40% of bee colonies in the US alone have died because of colony collapse.
The researchers say that a combined attack from a fungus and a virus appears to be responsible for the dreaded colony collapse. They aren’t sure exactly how this happens yet, but there is hope that by using anti-fungal agents where the virus is detected, colony collapse can be averted.
If you are asking yourself why you should care, consider that pollination by bees can drastically increase the yields of fruit production. For some common fruits (e.g. apricot, cherry, peach and plum) upto twice the yield is generated with bee pollination, but for apples bee pollination can increase the yield by almost 14 times (See the tables at the bottom of this page for some values) With fewer bees to pollinate fruit trees, you would see less fruit available in the grocery stores, perhaps of poorer quality and you could expect to pay much more for what you do find. Furthermore, honey could become a luxury item. So I am very glad for this news indeed!
*** UPDATE ***
Apparently a more in depth investigation by CNN has traced the sources of the funding for this study, and a major contributor is Bayer Crop Science (a subsidiary of the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG) the world’s largest pesticide producer. I am grateful to local beekeeper Gord Campbell for pointing this out on his blog, I completely missed it.