Monday, December 13, 2010

The BeeKeeper Next Door - NYTimes

Deborah Augustine

Mike Barrett keeps his bees in a hive that sits on the rooftop of his two-story row house in Astoria.

Published: December 8, 2010

"The number of bees has been falling since the end of World War II, when farmers stopped rotating crops with clover, a good pollen source for bees, and started using fertilizers. Pesticides and herbicides became common as well. In cities, native plants were ripped out in favor of exotic ones that were not good for bees.Then, four years ago, honey bee colonies mysteriously started to die around the country. This drop-off, called colony collapse disorder, added to the mounting health problems, like mites and diseases, that bees are facing. About 30 percent of the country’s managed colonies have died; around a third of the deaths are related to colony collapse disorder, according to the Agriculture Department.“We don’t know the primary cause, but we know the combination of poor nutrition, heavy pesticide use and bee diseases have put bees into a tailspin,” said Marla Spivak, an entomology professor at the University of Minnesota and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for her work on honey-bee health."


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