“The cause of the mysterious decline of the honey bee in the United States – and elsewhere in the world – may have been found in the form of a “double whammy” infection with both a virus and a fungus.
A unique collaboration between university researchers and military scientists in the US has found that a combination of a virus and a fungus in the gut of honey bees may result in the phenomenon known as colony-collapse disorder.”
Bees are not only declining in Europe and the US. They are also declining here.
Here’s an excerpt from that report on Lebanon:
Mohamad Ajami’s 65 bee hives overlook the Litani River Valley, with Jebel el Sheikh looming in the distance and to their immediate right, one of the south’s historic landmarks, Beaufort Castle. Last year, Ajami had a bumper honey harvest, generating 650 kilos. He was optimistic that this year would be even better, purchasing extra hives and equipment in anticipation of producing one ton of honey. At $25 for a 900 gram jar, Ajami should have netted over $25,000.
But three months ago he started realizing all was not well. The winds had been continuously blowing from the east, dry, desert winds instead of the westerly winds that provide the right moisture and dew for flora to thrive, and for the bees to pollinate and produce nectar. Ajami also noticed that the bees were not multiplying, meaning he could not artificially swarm the bees and build up the number of colonies to have more hives.
“That was when I realized something wasn’t right,” he said. “And while the summer flowers did come there were no forager bees in the hives. Something did not encourage them to generate honey, something – beyond my understanding – that is beyond normal events.”
When it came to harvesting, Ajami’s suspicions about a poor harvest were worse than he thought.
“I only generated 50 kilos. It was not a harvest, it is solely for family consumption this year,” he said.
Ajami’s experience is not a solitary one. Beekeepers throughout Lebanon have had a bad season, with rough estimates – in lieu of official statistics – of a 50 percent decline in production from an annual average of 200 tons. For Wadih Yazbek, a beekeeper and equipment distributor in Beirut, hardware sales are down 60 to 70 percent, indicative of the overall decline in the honey sector. “Beekeepers aren’t needing the extra hives and secondly, with not a lot of honey, keepers are not keen on purchasing new extractors or filters,” said Yazbek.