[ExI] How Capitalism Saved the Bees?

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu Jul 20 06:12:44 UTC 2017



From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Dan TheBookMan
Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2017 8:31 AM
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Subject: [ExI] How Capitalism Saved the Bees?



>…Crisis solved? Or crisis overstated? It's interesting that the article mentions there have been earlier episodes of CCD. Spike? 

Regards, Dan




Dan, beware of simple answers to a crazy complex situation.  This article wishes to measure bee populations by the number of hives, which is growing, even if bee populations are dwindling.  The complication is that any estimate of the health of hives is mostly guesswork.  How can you tell if a hive is healthy without opening it?  I know how to tell if you let me put on my bee suit and open it up.  Local beekeepers might take a dim view of my doing that.


As I drive down Interstate 5 in California’s central valley, I am struck by two things: how many hives there are and how few bees I see around them.  


Times have changed a lot since my own misspent youth.  In those days the grove guy and the bee guy were great friends: they made each other rich.  Well not really.  They supplied each other’s crops.  But they didn’t pay each other.  Then in the late 1970s, we got a huge varroa mite infection, and several other new diseases.  Result: over time, the grove guy needs the bees more than the bees need the fruit trees, so the grove guy started paying more and more to rent the hives.  


In our times of low interest rates, it makes great sense to borrow money, built supers, split your colonies as often as possible.  Result: many hives, bees living on the edge of starvation.  They put so many hives out there that there isn’t enough pollen to feed them.  So… the bee guy feeds his livestock with corn syrup.  In the old days, they fed them sugar water, but cane sugar is expensive, so… the bees get corn syrup.  Do we know everything that is in that corn syrup?  No we don’t.  It’s worse than that: a lot of stuff in there is in such small traces, we can’t even find out.


The grove guy rents all these hives, but not being a beekeeper generally, he probably doesn’t mess with the hives.  So he doesn’t really know what he is paying for. 


Corn doesn’t need bees, but it needs to keep other pests away, so the pesticides used on corn doesn’t care about bee protection: there aren’t any around.  But if the corn pesticides are bee hazards and it somehow gets in the corn syrup and the bee man feeds his starving bees with that, it might weaken the hives and cause them to be more susceptible to varroa mites and other diseases.


The hell of it is: we still don’t know.  The neonicotinoids might be contributing to CCD, but it is doubtful that it is the only problem.  We get political pressure to ban them, some states do, and afterwards it still isn’t clear if it is helping or if so, by how much.


My opinion on this is that there are more hives, probably fewer bees, and I have long been suspicious of that corn syrup.



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