bees

Honeybees' colony collapse disorder threatens our food supply

[caption id="attachment_5252" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Dateline Earth trying to bee all we can bee. Photo courtesy pdphoto.org"]Dateline Earth trying to bee all we can bee. Photo courtesy pdphoto.org[/caption]

After bemoaning the loss of Gourmet magazine and its environmental reporting a few weeks ago, I found it encouraging to hear a pretty good enviornmental story over the weekend on the foodie-focused radio program The Splendid Table.

Host Lynn Rosetto Casper had on the show author and journalist Rowan Jacobsen, who was flogging his new book "Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis." (Jacobsen's tucked in way at the end if you don't want to listen to the rest of the show. But I'm warning you: About midway through Casper has some great ideas for using green tomatoes and apples with character, like winesaps, as savory side dishes.)

I was surprised to learn the colony collapse disorder, which we wrote about on several occasions when honeybees started dying en masse in 2007, is continuing to this day.

In fact, Jacobsen said about 31 percent of the commercial honeybees -- used to pollinate scads of American crops -- died over the autumn and winter of 2007 to 2008, and 37 percent of the remaining ones died over last fall and winter.

Having heard little about this recently, I assumed the problem was easing. But no. And researchers still aren't sure what is causing it. Some blame a pesticide. And there's also a new bee virus at work.