Food Disaster

Are you prepared for the coming food disaster? This one is going to be national, with wide reaching effects. This one weak link is going to snap under the stress we’re putting on it, and it’s going to take out a large portion of our food supply. Yes, I’m talking about our national population of bees. Those vital little pollinators make a whole lot of our food possible. Those bees are dying in breath-taking amounts. That’s what the latest report out of the USDA spells out.

Despite a remarkably intensive level of research effort towards understanding causes of managed honeybee colony losses in the United States, overall losses continue to be high and pose a serious threat to meeting the pollination service demands for several commercial crops.
That part at the end there? Commercial crops? That’s where they are talking about your food.
The death rate for colonies has hit 30% annually in recent years and there are now about 2.5 million honey bee colonies in the US, down from 6 million in 1947 and 3 million in 1990. That downward spiral leaves “virtually no cushion of bees for pollination,” the report’s authors write.
Scientists already have begun to stockpile bee semen and germplasm in case the worst comes to pass. And by the worst, they mean, whoops, all the bees died, hopefully nobody was going to use this years crop of apples, berries, almonds, pears, squash or tomatoes. We’ll get started on breeding up some colonies from our boy bee and girl bee fixin’s and we’ll have those right out to you…. in 3 years.
Your non prepper friends will probably tell you at this point that of course, “they” will find a solution to the problem. I want to assure you, as your prepper guru, that no, it’s likely “they” won’t find a solution. The problem is we’ve got too many acres in corn and soybeans and lawn, and not enough in bee food. The problem is, every aspect of “modern” farming is harmful to bees. And “they” are never going to say any of that in a report or recommend any of it stop in any measurable way.

When researchers collected pollen from hives on the east coast pollinating cranberry, watermelon and other crops and fed it to healthy bees, those bees showed a significant decline in their ability to resist infection by a parasite called Nosema ceranae. The parasite has been implicated in Colony Collapse Disorder though scientists took pains to point out that their findings do not directly link the pesticides to CCD. The pollen was contaminated on average with nine different pesticides and fungicides though scientists discovered 21 agricultural chemicals in one sample. Scientists identified eight ag chemicals associated with increased risk of infection by the parasite. source

I’m sure an ag lobbyist would tell us those 8 chemicals are vital to our national harvest of corn.

What would be in my bee armegeddon kit? A dozen small brushes and a wide assortment of baggies. Seeds for flowers that attract surviving beneficial insects. (Tricky to guess, maybe some that serve as food for lots of different insects?) Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. You’re going to have to steward each generation of quite a few staple crops through EVERY part of the cycle of seed bearing. (Don’t forget this will be in the middle of a food crises.) Is there room for some good luck in that kit? We’re all going to need it.

Are you ready for the coming food crisis?

- Calamity Jane

16 comments… add one

  • CollegeMech December 17, 2013, 10:17 am

    Interestingly, honey bees are not indigenous to the Americas, having been brought over in the early European colonization era. They, like Queen Anne’s lace, poison hemlock, and honeysuckle have been around for so long that they now appear as part of the natural flora and fauna. The bumblebee, on the other hand, is a New World native and does not appear to be having similar issues.

    Reply
    • Calamity Jane December 17, 2013, 10:40 am

      I’ve heard that no body bothers to count bumblebees and other native pollinators, and so their numbers are mostly estimated and changes to their populations go mostly unnoticed. I would find it hard to believe that even a hardy native insect is going to be unfazed by all the crap we’re spraying.

      Reply
  • JAS December 17, 2013, 10:37 am

    Most people do not realize how much our food sources depend on bees. Very scary to say the least. Even though you can pollinate plants by hand, there is no way they can do it for enough food to feed the entire country.

    Reply
  • GoneWithTheWind December 17, 2013, 1:22 pm

    This story has been out there a loooong time. And yet no collapse of the honey bees. Yes they have die offs but no collapse yet even though it was predicted over ten years ago as being eminent. Last year was a record year for almost all crops. How could that be if the honey bees are dying out and predictions ten years ago was they would be al gone and we would be eating dirt? While the technical part of the story is true, i.e. that something is kiling honey bees in slightly larger numbers then in previous decades, the hype part of the story, that our crops will all die for lack of pollination is not true.

    Reply
  • Pineslayer December 17, 2013, 1:59 pm

    Watched a show last month on CCD, hosted by Dan Rather on AXS TV. They showed both sides of the debate. The real story was how farmers were scrambling to get new hives working because they are losing so many. How long can that go on? We, as a nation. have become dependent on a non-native pollinator. The big business farmers are all about bottom line economics, it is a commodity, not food. They will squeeze as much from the ground as possible with little consideration of the long term affects, not unlike the Wall Street criminals.

    There will be a reckoning and it will be painful. There are warnings signs everywhere if you are willing to see them. Those that are truly afraid of the future refuse to acknowledge the facts. Will it happen next year or in 20? CJ you are right about planting plenty of wildflowers to attract pollinators. I will be adding more Mason Bee blocks. I will do what I can and get ready to “Embrace the Suck”.

    Reply
  • irishdutchuncle December 17, 2013, 2:08 pm

    how long would it take to establish a “new” commercial agriculture, after the old collapses? do all the ag-chemicals persist, or will some break down with time?

    Reply
    • Calamity Jane December 17, 2013, 2:22 pm

      Some break down; sunlight, exposure, and dirt microbes take out some. Some persist in various forms through flora and fauna.

      Reply
  • TinMan December 17, 2013, 3:34 pm

    two years ago we decided to keep bees for this very reason…. we live on small organic farm in the foot hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. We grow much of what we eat or sell at the local farmers market. (our specialty is medicinal Herbs)
    we started beekeeping by ‘renting’ 2 hives the first year and it quickly grew to four hives…. But we too have just lost two hives to CCD.
    I have a theory and it pertains to the bee’s proximity to Cell phone towers. I believe the EMF from the tower is disrupting their ability to return home……
    But it’s only theory and i have no proof. but CCD became a problem almost at the same time that cell phones became the norm in this country.

    Reply
  • Roseman December 17, 2013, 5:51 pm

    We live in an area with little commercial agriculture. A few people here keep bees as a hobby.
    Being retired, I tend to spend a lot of time in the garden observing the insects during polination. Very few honey bees if any frequent our garden. Polination is facilitated by bumble bees and many other small bee varieties. It has always been so here in the thirty five years of gardening at our place. There always seems to be plenty of insects to get the job done and yes, flowers do help.
    I wonder if these native species populations will increase to fill in the gaps. Nature has a way of taking care of these things.

    Reply
  • Roseman December 17, 2013, 5:55 pm

    pollenation

    Reply
  • Babycatcher December 17, 2013, 6:30 pm

    In saving the seeds, I’ve been told that using baggies will kill the seeds cuz the baggies give off ethylene gas….is that true?

    Reply
  • Steve suffering in NJ December 17, 2013, 8:24 pm

    Babycacher

    Can’t say for sure. However, I’ve keeps seeds in ziplock bags in my fridge for years. Saw no reduction in quality. Just my observations.

    Reply
    • Babycatcher December 18, 2013, 1:30 am

      Thanks! Should I be keeping mine in the fridge?

      Reply
  • gardener December 18, 2013, 1:55 pm

    I’m a hobby beekeeper and our losses have been about 15% over the past three years. There isn’t much corn grown in this area, so that is probably a help.

    I have also read research and seen firsthand in my garden that bumblebees and other local pollinators do a lot of the pollinating.

    I think with a decline in honeybees, the biggest crop to be hit will be California almonds. Vast numbers of bee colonies are trucked to California from all over North America for the almond pollination season.

    Reply
  • smokechecktim December 18, 2013, 2:17 pm

    A man that I know is a beekeeper and he reduced bee die off by periodically placing a plug of honeycomb and other ingredients that kept the bees either inside or outside the hive. The bees were forced to eat their way out or in. He said this greatly reduced the deaths of the worker bees by forcing additional nutrients into the bees. Dont know if you have heard of this technique or not.

    Reply
  • Ned Ludd December 19, 2013, 2:38 pm

    The flip side of this is that urban and suburban bees are actually on the increase. The chemicals used on lawns, golf courses and landscaping are much less hazardous to bees.
    I am building a top bar hive this winter and will populate it in the spring .

    Reply

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