To Bee or Not To Bee

CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder, is the new buzzword. Beekeepers across America are discovering, to their chagrin, that adult western honeybees have abruptly disappeared from their hives, leaving behind their brood, pollen and honey. It is almost the modern equivalent of Prince Siddhartha Gautama deciding to leave the royal palace in the middle of the night in search of Enlightenment. Except that nobody knows where the bees have vanished.

Conspiracy theories abound, from the absurd to the mundane, although none of them account for the sudden mass exodus of honeybees in the last one year. Explanations include the increased use of pesticides and antibiotics in or near their colonies, the side-effects of bees being exposed to genetically modified (GM) crops, global warming, and even RF exposure from cell towers (the last, in fact, was a misinterpretation of a pilot study by University of Koblenz-Landau scholars on the effect of digital cordless phones on honeybees).

While scientists and politicians are now equally distressed by this phenomenon (the former at the cause, and the latter at the effect-- the honeybee is the predominant cross-pollinator for crops valued at US$ 15 billion annually), its effect is more pronounced in today's America because the western honeybee was imported from Europe to take the place of the native wild bees which did the same job, but at a slower rate. Resiliency, in this case, was the victim in the pursuit of efficiency.

It is being said that since colony collapses have occurred in the past and the bee population has recovered every time, there is nothing to worry about. That is only partly true because of two reasons: the magnitude of the current CCD is unprecedented, and the habitat of the honeybee in the "industrialised west" has indeed been destroyed considerably (if not irrevocably). So even while we hold on to the forlorn hope of the honeybee's resurrection, a lesson for all us (Darwinist and Creationist alike) should be that Nature knows best.

I don't much mind if it rains or snows,
'Cos I've got a lot of honey on my nice new nose!
I don't care if it snows or thaws,
'Cos I've got a lot of honey on my nice clean paws!
A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

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