Honeybee deaths in the first four months of 2010 were much higher than those reported for 2009 across America according to the USDA Bee Research Laboratory. The most extensive bee survey ever conducted across the nation is attempting to diagnose and quantify colony collapse disorder (CCD) which has entered its fourth year.
In 2010 the death rate was 34 percent, up from last year's 29 percent. On average, beekeepers in the U.S. lost 42 percent of their operational bees in 2009-10 compared with 23 percent in 2008-09. Prior to CCD the normal operational loss in one season was 14 percent.
Beekeepers, concerned citizens and advocacy groups including the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) are calling for a halt of the use of a group of dangerous pesticides known as neonictinoids that are causing bees to exhibit symptoms similar to those humans afflicted with Parkinson's disease and Alzheimers's disease.
Honeybees contribute at least $44 billion a year to the U.S. economy pollinating crops like apples, almonds, avocados, blueberries, broccoli, cherries, cranberries, grapes, peaches, plums, tomatoes, just to name a few; alfalfa and clover for the beef and dairy industries; cotton for our clothes; medicines and 200 million pounds of honey.
Many blue-chip corporations depend on the honeybees for their products including General Mills, Haagen Daz ice cream, Starbucks coffee and Clorox's Burt's Bees, a speciality personal care company with more than 150 products.
Bees have a memory, they vote and are being trained to count and helping people as an early detector of diseases by sniffing skin and lung cancers, diabetes and tuberculosis.
The Red Cross estimates there are 80 million to 120 million land mines in 70 countries and 40,000 new land mines are being deployed weekly. Each year these brutal weapons of destruction main ten of thousands of children. Researchers from the University of Montana are using bees to find TNT residue - the primary ingredients of land mines - while conducting surveys many miles away from the hives.
The U.S. imports about 100 million pounds, or about one-third of the honey consumed domestically, from China, a country known to use banned carcinogens. Because of this, many experts are advising consumers to buy only organic honey or seek out beekeepers and buy their local honey.
This year, consider planting pesticide free native and blue flowering plants in your yard or on your balcony. Those concerned about bees and climate change can also help scientists in the U.S. National Phenology Network by volunteering to help monitor plant and animal species across the United States.
All bee species need our helping hand because we cannot survive without them.