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Colony Collapse Disorder


I’ve been holding back on writing this post but have finally decided to go ahead with it despite my reservations.  We’ll get to those in a moment. 
I’m sure most of you are aware that the honeybees are dying or disappearing and we don’t really know why. This phenomenon has been named Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and really nothing is known about it except that it happens.  Research is going on at a few universities to try to figure out what’s causing it and if we can stop it.  
I have a special fondness for bees, not just because the are an important part of our food chain, but because I love hearing them buzzing around my yard.  I’m not so interested in yellow jackets and wasps – although they have jobs, too – but in the honeybees and bumble bees that spend time pollinating my summer crops and flowers.  There’s just something about them I find soothing.  And I would be incredibly sad to lose them even if we somehow found another way to pollinate crops.  
About a month ago I received an email from Häagen-Dazs about a new awareness campaign they’ve created to help bring the plight of the honeybees to our attention. They’ve created a video, a site and a donation program to help with research.  And this is where my reservations kick in.
The site is one of those maddeningly cute sites that take forever to negotiate.  There is some useful information on it, but I would think most people would bail out before actually finding it.  Still, if you can stick with it there are suggestions on how everyone can help out, among other things.  Also, they have developed a special flavored ice-cream called Vanilla Honeybee.  When you buy it or several other flavors they will make a donation to one of two research programs.  The problem is that they don’t tell you how much they will donate.  Still something is better than nothing, I guess.  However, perhaps you would be better off just donating the entire price you’d pay for the ice-cream to one of the research programs, you know?
So, I’ve decided to write this post to help draw attention to the issue, even if Häagen-Dazs methods for educating people leave something to be desired.  At least they are doing something and that is good. 
The photo at the beginning of this post was taken at UBC at the Outstanding in the Field dinner I recently attended there.  To date, they have not been affected by CCD.  Yay!  They have several honeybee hives on their farm and as you can see in this photo a thriving colony has returned home for the evening.  The photos at the bottom of the post were taken in my garden.  Bumble bees are also important pollinators.  So far this issue does not seem to be affecting them, or maybe we just have not yet realized it.  I have had periods of time when I’ve found several dead bumblebees on my plants.  I don’t ever spray but my guess is that someone in my neighborhood is using some sort of pest control that affects them.  This makes me so sad.  The video in the center was created by Häagen-Dazs to help raise awareness.  Here’s what they say about it:  "When a honey bee returns to the hive after finding a good source of nectar, it will perform a unique dance for its hive mates, detailing the distance, direction, quality and quantity of the new food supply. The richer the food source, the longer and more vigorous the dance. This is our Hip-Hop interpretation of that dance".
And here’s the link to their site where you can learn more:  Help The Honeybees

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