D'après un article du New York Times, les apiculteurs dans 24 états américains ont constaté un déclin de 30 à 70 % du nombre d'abeilles. Non seulement il s'agit d'une menace pour la production de miel, mais surtout pour la pollinisation des plantes. Il est estimé qu'aux États-Unis les abeilles pollinisent pour environ 17 milliards de dollars canadiens de semence et de plantes. Un tiers de nos aliments ont été pollinisé par des abeilles. Certains font le lien entre le déclin des abeilles et les OGM [Union nationale de l'apiculture française, Grainvert, Contre Info, Contre Info 2, Truthout, Le Soleil, Radio-Canada] [vidéo sur les abeilles en France et les OGM]

New York Times Disappearing honeybees imperil crops, keepers

 

Harvesters in 24 states report hive population rates have mysteriously fallen 30% to 70%.

Alexei Barrionuevo / New York Times

"Colony collapse disorder" in bee hives threatens fruit and vegetable production and keepers' livelihoods. VISALIA, Calif. -- David Bradshaw has endured countless stings during his life as a beekeeper, but he got the shock of his career when he opened his boxes last month and found half of his 100 million bees missing.In 24 states, including Michigan, beekeepers have gone through similar shocks as their bees have been disappearing inexplicably at an alarming rate, threatening not only their livelihoods but also the production of numerous crops.

"I have never seen anything like it," Bradshaw, 50, said. "Box after box after box are just empty. There's nobody home."

The sudden mysterious losses are highlighting the critical link that honeybees play in the long chain that gets fruit and vegetables to supermarkets and dinner tables across the country. Beekeepers have fought regional bee crises before, but this is the first national affliction.

In a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie, bees are flying off in search of pollen and nectar and never returning to their colonies. Nobody knows why. Researchers say the bees are presumably dying in the fields, perhaps becoming exhausted or disoriented and falling victim to the cold.

As researchers scramble to find answers to the syndrome they call "colony collapse disorder," growers are becoming openly nervous about the capability of the commercial bee industry to meet the growing demand for bees to pollinate dozens of crops, from almonds to avocados to kiwis.

A Cornell University study has estimated that honeybees annually pollinate more than $14 billion worth of seeds and crops in the United States, mostly fruits, vegetables and nuts.

"Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food," said Zac Browning of the American Beekeeping Federation.

The bee losses are ranging from 30 percent to 60 percent on the West Coast, with some beekeepers on the East Coast and in Texas reporting losses of more than 70 percent; beekeepers consider a loss of up to 20 percent in the off-season to be normal.

Over the past two decades, the number of beehives, estimated by the Agriculture Department to be 2.4 million, has dropped by a quarter and the number of beekeepers by half.

It could just be that the bees are stressed out. Bees are being raised to survive a shorter off-season, to be ready to pollinate once the almond bloom begins in February. That likely lowered their immunity to viruses.

Mites have also damaged bee colonies, and the insecticides used to try to kill mites are harming the ability of queen bees to spawn as many worker bees. The queens are living half as long as they did just a few years ago.

Researchers are also concerned that the willingness of beekeepers to truck their colonies from coast to coast could be adding to bees' stress.