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Embattled bees

(article, Kim Carlson)

Just when the glass-half-empty side of my psyche had Colony Collapse Disorder figured out ("It's over for us, folks; the human race is definitely going down!"), along comes this story in the New York Times about seedless citrus. 

Turns out those little "Cuties" clementines I've been buying by the bagful are grown on trees that actually should not be pollinated by bees, lest pollen from seeded species contaminate the crop. 

[%image bee float=right size=medium caption="Our friend the pollinator."]

This is such a potential problem, in fact, that last spring citrus growers threatened to sue beekeepers to keep their fuzzy buzzy pollinators off the seedless specimens.

So if CCD persists, we won't have almonds, peaches, or clover honey, but we might still have seedless oranges? 

Since we featured a piece about the myriad difficulties facing honey bees in Sift a month ago, the media has been saturated with stories on CCD. For a clear, if dry, update, check out this FAQ sheet put out by the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium. And the other day, on the food blog eggbeater, I found this alarming podcast about the situation.

The CCD piece I've enjoyed best, however, is this bittersweet Salon story by an urban beekeeper whose hive has collapsed. 

On a recent broadcast of the public-radio program "Living on Earth," I heard yet another discussion of the honey-bee plight. Jerry Hayes, chief of the apiary section in Florida's agriculture department, said this:

bq. Albert Einstein, a guy a lot smarter than I am, said that if honey bees became extinct, human society would follow in four years.

At least we'll have seedless mandarins to eat at our last supper.

bee, l