Tuesday, August 11, 2009

PBS' Silence of the Bees

I'm a big fan of PBS programming, especially Mystery! and Nature. A recently re-aired episode, Silence of the Bees, is kind of a hybrid between those two topics. "Agriculture meets CSI!" What's not to love?

By now I'm sure you've heard about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). In 2006, bees just up and left the hive in numbers (and ways) never witness before. Researchers are trying to determine if it's pesticides, a disease, a parasite, or a combination of multiple things that just create a perfect storm.

Bees are estimated to pollinate about 1/3 of all the food we eat. Not to mention flowers...if you add those in, according to the show, bees are responsible for the reproduction of 3/4 of the plants on Earth. This includes some crops eaten by animals (like cows) that humans also eat.

No bees = freaky food situation. And a world devoid of showy flowers.

Think that's centuries away? If CCD continues, it is estimated that by 2035 honeybees will be died off in the US. And, they already are in a part of Sichuan province in China. As shown in this documentary, farmers have to pollinate by hand there after pesticides killed off bee populations. That's right, humans play the role of bees. Can you imagine the price of your food if US farmers had to pollinate each flower of their crops?


I urge you to watch Silence of the Bees, look at the update on that site and plant flowers to feed bees (which you probably already do!). It's a really well-done documentary, like most of PBS programming.

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