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Could Mowed Lawns & Agriculture be the end of the bees?

Well, years ago every summer I recall there were these little white flowers everywhere. I also distinctly remember huge fields of wild flowers sprouting up along the highways. I anticipated the arrival of the flowers this year & finally realized that they aren't coming.

Then I remembered the news about the declining bee population & suddenly noticed that I hadn't seen a single bee all summer. Bees used to be EVERYWHERE & now they've just disappeared.

My first thought was that the bees must surely be suffering from one of those "global pandemics" that the news has been freaking out over for the past decade or so.

At that moment I had another thought... what if we're speeding things up by taking away their food supply? What if their numbers aren't really declining world-wide, but just moving away from humans & our lawn-mowing, flower-cutting ways?

Do you think a combination of agriculture, disease & acid rain could be hurting bees?

Topics: agriculture
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  • Sep 22 2011: When I was young we used to step around bees all the time and they were everywhere. Then people started to have their lawns sprayed with chemicals to keep those little white flowers and weeds from growing. Now I see no bees and our water supply soaks up the run off from the lawns which can't be good for us. If you have any land at all try to let some off it grow in so the bees will come back. I have a small bit of land that supports butterflys but no bees. In some rural areas they still have a good bee population and some people raise them. This was a great question to ask and I hope it makes those who get their lawns sprayed think about it.
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      Sep 22 2011: I always wondered what that spray was for.
  • Sep 23 2011: I recently saw a documentary on this where bee keepers were interviewed. Those of them who were affiliated to a research division of a Dutch university (and that was, in itself, indirectly funded by Bayer - try and keep up) claimed it was a natural occurrence... a 'fluctuation' in bee populations.
    Strangely, and much to my interest, all of the others were convinced a certain pesticide (or herbicide, I can't remember) made by that very same Bayer was to blame for catastrophic illness and subsequent mass deaths in bee populations (at least as far as the Netherlands were concerned).
    Apparently it's a chemical used for spraying e.g. golf courses in order to keep them free of any weeds.
    Here in Belgium, the decline of the honey bee population is just as apparent, so unless a newly introduced natural enemy of the honey bee is directly responsible for this mass extinction (maybe 'disappearance' is a better choice of words since we're not stumbling over piles of dead bees), I'm inclined to believe the independent bee keepers. Lots of chemical compounds have been created in the course of our recent history that have proved detrimental when introduced into an ecosystem. Why would this be any different.
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    Sep 22 2011: All over the world a lot of research have been done to find the cause of the rapid shrinking bee populations. Several reasons are noticed but in overall they are secondary reasons of the primary cause which are herbicides. We humans spray poisons around that crops are made immune for but are devastating the resistance of bees. Bees become hereby vulnerable for all kinds of natural dangers.
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      Sep 22 2011: It's just strange how quickly it has happened... I didn't even notice.

      Bees were one of the most numerous creatures on Earth... Could one disease really hit that hard?

      Pesticides sound like a more reasonable cause, but all the bees on Earth? It's almost surreal.
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        Sep 23 2011: As far as I know Europe, USA, India suffer this problem. Probably more but that's what I saw reports from about research.
        In the USA many fields, orchards cannot be pollinated anymore by lack of bees. If this goes on there isn't much to eat left for both humans and animals.

        It is correlated with gen modified crops that have been made resistant for poison that's sold with the seeds. The plants stay alive yet contain the poison and that's why the bees get their share.
        If the plants would die they wouldn't flower and the bees were saved.

        Companies like Monsanto make this stuff and do an aggressive marketing. In Europe there's some regulation on the use of it but in the USA no one seem to care.
        This is because the company infiltrates in the government and all organs that could stop them. Every opponent of their operation is at risk for there's lots of money involved.
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          Oct 2 2011: Thanks for bringing this up, and exposing Monsanto.
          I discovered its dark works 20 years ago doing research on environmental issues. It was extremely difficult to find information on the company, I became sort of a detective... and the findings were scary. Monsanto owns, under this name, but many others as well, most food supplies world wide. Its goal from the start has been to become the single food supplier in the world (yes, not top or best, the ONLY ONE). For that purpose it pioneered the engineering of genetically modified crops. You see, if you do away with seeds that can germinate and become the sole provider of "better, bigger, lab produced pest resistant" seeds, you've got the world by the neck.
          Monsanto, initially a pharmacological firm, started in a very unsuspected way, donating tons of soy seeds to impoverished African countries, who welcomed them without asking questions. This was the testing field, and it worked. Soon many communities depended fully on Monsanto, as they discovered they could not store a percentage of the crop to plant next year because they were sterile... Not only that, but soy is known to quickly deplete soil from nourishment, rendering it infertile as well. The earth can recover if given a couple of years of rest (e.g. given to cattle) but this needs initial planning of plots and people lacked the information... and the cattle!
          I lived in England when the first GM foods were being introduced... Being a very traditional country, there was a huge resistance to it initially, as locally produced resources have been the standard (pre-European Community times) But like you pointed out, Monsanto works its "magic" at all levels, and soon the argument turned into weather the labels should just warn that the food was GM. In a short time, most of the warnings were gone as well.
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    Oct 13 2011: This was posted by Andrea on another conversation: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-world-according-to-monsanto/

    Look for information under questions:

    Why isn't there more coverage of the Right2Know March, 300,000 from NY to DC happening right now, Oct 2-16th, to get GMOs labeled???
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    Oct 4 2011: I live in Idaho and New York. In Idaho, I am a rancher. Each year, the beekeepers bring their boards of bees to nail on the barns and trees around the ranch in order to pollinate. It's wonderful. However, there are some farmers and ranchers who don't allow them to place the bees on the property, generally near alfalfa fields. I've always wondered what they're so afraid of...it seems as if they don't want anyone profiting from their crops. That said, perhaps this could be done everywhere there is open space, and the right environment for pollination. It's a rewarding relationship. The beekeepers deliver large jugs of honey to us all each fall, making perfect Christmas gifts for family and friends. :)
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    Oct 4 2011: A book that may interest you is "A World Without Bees," by Alison Benjamin
  • Sep 23 2011: This should hopefully answer some of your questions.
    http://www.vanishingbees.com/
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    Sep 22 2011: Bees possibly will live only in deep forests or jungle to survive from ruthless human aggression resulted through the use of insecticide, cultivation of hybrids and the reasons mentioned in this thread.
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      Oct 2 2011: And where exactly are these untouched deep forests that you talk about?
      Are you aware of what is going on in the "lungs of the world", the Amazon jungle? I don't want to sound pessimistic, but action is needed in all fronts, today! It is not about the bees, not about the ozone, it is about us!
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        Oct 2 2011: You are so right , nothing left from human agression.........
        What I meant is jungles are still free from insecticide & hybrid cultivation to some extent..... have to protect those small pockets not only bees but to save the planet from environmental disaster.....
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      Oct 4 2011: Bees require flowers, and flowers grow in sunny areas. The deep forest is home to ferns and moss. Not many flowers bloom in the shadowy depths of the forest.

      I had assumed that it was in relation to the wide spread use of insecticides when battling the west nile virus. Last year, and the year before, we had no mosquitoes, but we also had nearly no bees. This year it would appear that my city has stopped their anti mosquito campaign as the mosquitoes are back in force, but so too are the bees.
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        Oct 4 2011: Definitely bees don't live on green leaves they need flowers also trees of forest need bees for the pollination to keep the plant species to survive. Big trees which creates shadow down also have flowers if not all.

        The deep mangroove forest of my country is a major hub for bees and that's the biggest source of natural honey in my country. While as kid I used to see lot bees and thier hives near locality , now those are very very rare. But still the mangroove forest population is alive to great extent.

        You are right about the use of insecticide to control mosquitoes definitely have impact on bees as well
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          Oct 4 2011: We live in two very different forests. Where I live, we are surrounded by evergreen forests. All of the trees reproduce by dropping cones, and none of them have flowers. If you go into the old growth here, there are no shrubs or small plants. It's entirely filled with massive oaks and pines, which cover the forest flower in a thick layer of needles. The only other plant that thrives in the environment, are the different types of mosses and mushrooms.

          I grew up in a small logging community at the northern edge of the Canadian west coast. I would only ever see bees in town, as outside of town, there were no flowers. The forest was dominated by three colours. Green, brown, and white. The mushrooms added a splash of colour from time to time, but that's about it.
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        Oct 4 2011: "Bees don't live in the forest" I forgot that point. I'm not sure what going on in Alabama, but there were no flowers anywhere around here this summer. All we have is wild wheat now. Not even cat tails grow here anymore.