Black market bees

The days when a bee used to fly by and I’d hardly give it a second thought except wanting to avoid being stung are long gone. It’s taken a disaster for me to start to learn just how important these tiny critters are in the grand scale of things.

Honey bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate in recent years. For example, after a couple of years of heavy losses, 29 percent of the remaining honey bee colonies vanished between September 2008 and April 2009 in the USA.

Isn’t it always the way – we don’t appreciate the bounties of natureuntil they are gone or threatened? We often forget this is a finiteplanet and as such, everything living creature on it is finite too.

I was recently “beesieged” by a small thirsty swarm of bees hovering around a roof downpipe. In the past I would have actively tried to at least shoo them away, but I just let them do their thing, hoping they would grab a drink and disperse on their own – and not start building a hive.

Poor weather, mites and the mysterious colony collapse disorder not only threatens the survival of bees; but poses dire problems for the plant and animal kingdom – including us. Bee pollination of crops is responsible for as much as 30% of the U.S. food supply.

But other negative impacts are occurring too.

According to this report, beekeepers in Britain are being warned to protect their hives – not from more traditional enemies and threats, but from theft. The sharp decline in Britain’s honeybee population has seen second-hand hives selling for up to nearly 7 times their usual price. Sadly, its believed the thieves may be from within the beekeeping community.

When we consider environmental degradation and dwindling resources, we often only think of the really apparent impacts, but there are so many knock on effects that amplify the problem.

Learn more about bees and our food.