Thursday, April 12, 2007

Crop pollination and honeybees

This article ran a year ago:
Time for a new approach to crop pollination: "The parasitic mite that devastated honey bee colonies across the United States this spring served notice that we are overly reliant upon the honey bee for crop pollination. Beekeepers report the mite infested 40 to 60 percent of managed beehives. Unless we find alternate pollinators to cart around, or another means to pollinate our fields, we risk periodic crop failures due to lack of pollination. And not just of almonds (whose February bloom faced severe honey bee shortages), but of any of the more than 100 insect-pollinated crops grown in the United States as well."
Now, this year a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder is occurring with honeybees.

From 1971 to 2006 approximately half of the U.S. honey bee colonies have vanished, but this decline includes the cumulative losses from all factors such as urbanization, pesticide use, tracheal and Varroa mites and commercial beekeepers retiring and going out of business, and has been fairly gradual. Late in the year 2006 and in early 2007, however, the rate of attrition was alleged to have reached new proportions, and the term "Colony Collapse Disorder" was proposed to describe this sudden rash of disappearances.[1]

This could have a devastating effect on many crops, 1/3 of U.S. crops possibly, but probably not olives since wind is the main pollinator of olive trees.

Thanks to my co-worker, Vanessa, for reminding me about this.

Abandoned olive groves breeding ground for olive fruit fly

Invasive Species Weblog: "The Chico Enterprise Record has an article, written by the Deputy Agricultural Commissioner of Butte County, California, about invasive olive trees - true olives (Olea spp.), not Russian or autumn olives (Elaeagnus spp.). The Deputy Ag Commissioner notes that abandoned olive groves in California have become vectors for crop pests, like the Olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae), and these pests are threatening active olive orchards. The fruits of the abandoned trees are also being dispersed by birds, and some trees have been found in wild areas."