In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Bees on strike, honey harvest plummets by 50 percent

Posted by seumasach on October 30, 2010

The final theory is that the rise in atmospheric electromagnetic radiation levels, a byproduct of the increasing usage of cell phones and wireless communication towers, is a major factor. Cell phone radiation interferes with bees’ ability to navigate through the air.

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ITNT Archive: Disappearing Bees

Today’s Zaman

30th October, 2010

The harvest of natural Kaçkar honey, which is produced in Rize’s Kaçkar Mountains, has plunged by nearly 50 percent this year, despite an increase of 40 percent in the number of beehives, General Manager of Topuy Kaçkar Remzi Özbay has said.

In a written statement on Sunday Özbay said the drop in the quantity was dramatic, despite the proper climate conditions and the abundance of flowers in the region, and blamed the deterioration of the natural balance ensued by the over-exploitation of pesticides in agricultural production. “The bees are on a veritable strike, so to say,” he noted in the statement.

The general manager warned that some producers in the region have already started offering to the market fake “Kaçkar” honey, which is produced with dextrose, with price tags between TL 50-150, opening door to extremely high “undeserved revenues.”

The top manager of Topuy Kaçkar, which has been producing organic honey in the region for a decade, said the company had been getting six tons of honey from a thousand combs in a year on average, but that this amount has fallen to three tons.

“I am receiving daily reports from beekeepers. Bees are strong, flowers are plentiful and the weather conditions are fit. We were expecting to see a very good season. When we opened the combs when the harvesting time arrived, we were stunned to see that the amount of honey was much less than what should have been. It had gone down even though it should have increased. We started growing curious about why the bees were sulking. Then we realized that all apiarists were witnessing sharp drops in their harvests,” said Özbay.

‘Brown bears are our gourmets’ 

Özbay says the brown bears inhabiting the Kaçkar mountain chain are smashing up beehives to eat the honey inside and that no precautions taken have succeeded in preventing their assaults. “They are waiting and exploiting the distraction of guards to steal the honey. Beekeepers are prohibited by law to inflict any harm on these bears since the place is their natural habitat,” he said, and added that the company has surrendered and is no longer worried about the damage inflicted by these indigenous animals. “We are aware that we are the guests here and that nature belongs to them. Besides, our honey is so delicious that the brown bears simply never give up. Just as food companies employ people with delicate degustation, we are employing the brown bears as our gourmets. They are picky and have a fine palate when it comes to honey. They don’t eat low quality products. So, we are now subtracting their rights of tasting from our annual production prospects. We have spared nearly 100 honeycombs for them,” he said.

The manager says his company had to suspend export deals with new customers from five countries and deliver half of the previously left orders of their customers at best.

He recalled a saying — which is often attributed to Albert Einstein — that goes if the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to survive, and asked entomologists to focus on this issue.

A similar dire situation occurred three years ago when sizable honeybee populations in many parts of the world disappeared in a strange and unprecedented way, all of a sudden and without a trace. Scientist received this incident as a heads-up and conducted studies as to the possible causes of this extraordinary and mysterious situation, which they termed “colony collapse disorder.”

Honeybees are a major contributor to the pollination of hundreds of fruit and vegetable crops besides thousands of flower species worldwide, meaning that without bees, humanity would no longer be able to produce these crops, since cultivating them without natural means of pollination is extremely difficult and costly. From a broader perspective, a change in the natural balance will lead to the extinction of certain vegetable and fruit species that will trigger a butterfly effect and lead to the eventual destruction of nature.

Scientists have so far attempted to explain such unprecedented behavior among bees with three major postulations. The first cause to blame is global warming, which fuels the proliferation of pathogens such as mites, viruses and fungi to the detriment of bee populations. Besides, drastic changes in weather hurt bees, which have for millions of years been accustomed to consistent weather patterns. Another explanation asserts the overuse of pesticides and herbicides, which honeybees ingest during their pollination rounds, is to blame. The final theory is that the rise in atmospheric electromagnetic radiation levels, a byproduct of the increasing usage of cell phones and wireless communication towers, is a major factor. Cell phone radiation interferes with bees’ ability to navigate through the air.

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