Sunday, April 29, 2007

To Be or Not to Bee 

Illinois Times, April 26:
Illinois scientists search for the reasons bees are dropping like flies

The first reported disappearances came late last year in Florida. By January, investigators had determined that millions of individuals had gone missing, leaving few if any clues as to why. The bizarre phenomenon has prompted a nationwide scientific inquiry. In late March, a congressional subcommittee held a hearing on the matter.

As the quiet debate over the issue continues in the halls of government and university laboratories, the body count has risen with each passing day. Authorities in more than two dozen states have now verified similar cases. Disappearances have also occurred recently across Canada and Europe.

If it were happening to a larger species, the plight of Apis mellifera would likely have spurred greater public outcry. Instead, the mass annihilation has stayed mostly under the radar. But the dire situation has raised concerns among some scientists who are struggling to understand it.

“We don’t actually know what the cause of the problem is in honeybees,” says May R. Berenbaum, an entomologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “but one possibility is pesticide overload.” The scientist cautions that there are many other possible causes. ...

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