Kim Flottum is an acknowledged bee expert. He has a degree in horticulture from UW Madison. He worked for four years at the USDA Honey Bee Research Lab where he studied pollination ecology. He’s spent the years since then in raising bees, writing about bees, writing books about bees and beekeeping, and editing Bee Culture – the monthly magazine of American beekeeping.
Flottum wrote in a piece that appeared in CNN Opinion on Tuesday, April 2, “That honeybees die is not new. And that beekeepers accept that on average 30% or more of their livestock will vanish each spring isn’t new either. But when more than half of all the honeybees in this country die almost at once at once — that is new. And that’s what happened this spring.”
Flottum goes on to state that there is “no single definitive culprit” in the disappearance of the bees but, “with humans, if we get too little sleep, have a poor diet, and take on too much pressure, our stress levels rise and we succumb to ailments our otherwise healthy immune system could easily handle. And we get sick. So it is with the bees. Their world is overrun with stress.”
In his Opinion piece, Flottum points out that bees are routinely deprived of a healthy diet because the “dietary reserve has been plowed under to make way for 100 million acres of ethanol-producing corn. This sterile desert has nothing to offer…” It is one more source of stress. “…some suspect, the tipping point stress.” As more and more land is converted to commercial purposes and the land that is farmed is used for crops that are are not good food sources for bees, the bees find themselves on the short end.
Ultimately, the bee loses. As Flottum says, “we all lose.” We can’t come out ahead without the pollinators we need for our crops. It’s as clear and plain and simple as that.