Worried that the end is at hand? Then add this to your Apocalyptic Notebook:
Unless someone or something stops it soon, the mysterious killer that is wiping out many of the nation’s honeybees could have a devastating effect on the world’s dinner plate. Honeybees don’t just make honey; they pollinate such crops as apples, nuts, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, cucumbers, citrus fruit, peaches, kiwi, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and other melons.
About one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80% of that pollination, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Even cattle, which feed on alfalfa, depend on bees.
While not all scientists foresee a food crisis, noting that large-scale bee die-offs have happened before, this one seems particularly baffling and alarming.
U.S. beekeepers in the past few months have lost one-quarter to one-half of their colonies — or about five times the normal winter losses — because of what scientists have dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder. The problem started in November and seems to have spread to 27 states, with similar collapses reported in Brazil, Canada and parts of Europe.
Scientists have scoured the country, finding eerily abandoned hives in which the bees seem to have simply left their honey and broods of baby bees. And they have yet to find the cause or causes — with such culprits as bacteria, viruses and pesticides all being ruled out.
In the absence of knowledge, theories have proliferated, including one that Osama bin Laden has engineered the die-off to disrupt American agriculture.
One of the most pervasive theories is that cellphone transmissions are causing the disappearances — an idea that originated with a recent German study but has yet to be proved.