Huge bee die offs do not bode well for agriculture in Lebanon
A staggering proportion of bees in an important agricultural hub have frozen to death in Lebanon. A recent influx of extreme weather that produced ice and frost combined with a series of diseases has wiped out up to 75% of the bees in Hasbaya and Arqoub, according to The Daily Star. As pollinators, bees are essential to the agricultural industry, which accounts for approximately 7% of Lebanon’s GDP and employs up to 15% of the country’s population.
“Severe weather conditions restricted bees’ movement without us being able to rescue them, which ultimately led to their death,”
Sheikh Tarek Abu Faour of the Beekeepers Association of south Lebanon told the paper.
Fed by the Hasbani river, the hills of Wadi El Taym – of which Hasbaya is the capital – “are covered with rows of silver-green olive trees, its most important source of income. Villagers also produce honey, grapes, figs, prickly pears, pine nuts and other fruit,” according to a Wikipedia entry.
The third most important industry in Lebanon, agriculture will be seriously affected by this sweeping loss which compounds the international impact of Colony Collapse Disorder that was reported by Lebanon Now in 2010.
Previously thought to occur only in Europe and North America with potential cases in Taiwan and Ireland, CCD is a phenomenon in which worker bees suddenly abandon their hives en masse, literally collapsing the colony.
Some scientists have pointed to climate change and even cellular phone use as the leading causes. Others attribute CCD to an influx in insect diseases.
“Dr. Rami Ollaik, professor in the American University of Beirut’s Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, conducted his own study on CCD and found a 30 to 35 percent decrease in bee populations nationwide this year,” according to Lebanon Now.
In an August 2010 beekeeping project, 100 hives out of 450 suddenly disappeared, the paper reports.
The Beekeepers Association claims that beekeepers are receiving assistance from the Agricultural Ministry to cope with the diseases affecting up to 6,000 hives in Hasbaya alone.
Without bees there are few pollinators left. Without pollination plants can’t proliferate. And without food, humans are pretty much toast.
image via Morguefile