Bug Blog

Honeybees in South Africa of concern

Honeybees in South Africa of concern 

The honeybee crisis may seem a distant concern for most people, but organizations that produce food and protect the environment have been sending out alarms for years.  And now, President Obama has turned his attention to the problem by setting aside millions of acres of land to provide a hospitable environment for bees.

Greenpeace notes that 70 out of our top 100 food crops are pollinated by bees.  There is no known system to replace bee pollination; technology is a long way from being able to duplicate this critical skill.  The fact is, humans depend on bees in a very direct way in order to produce food.

Now South Africa, which has previously been unaffected, is facing an outbreak of a bee-destroying disease called foulbrood, which is spreading rapidly.  Mike Allsop of the Agricultural Research Council, notes that this is the first time in the history of the nation that this disease has appeared.

“It’s exactly the same as around the world, the bees are sick of humans and the pressures and the stresses humans are putting on them,” said Allsopp.

“In the past they were less vulnerable because they weren’t stressed by intensive bee-keeping and pesticides and pollution.”

Although South African bees were able to cope with a European strain of this disease, the new variant is the same type that is affecting — and killing – American honeybees.