Honeybees-Going, Going, Gone?

Honey Time
Location: San Jose Municipal Airport, 1661 Airport Blvd, San Jose

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left.”–Quote Attributed to Albert Einstein

State Historical Landmark NO. 945 First Successful Introduction of the Honeybee to California. Here, on the 1,939-acre Rancho Potrero de Santa Clara, Christopher A. Shelton introduced the honeybee to California in early March 1853. In Aspinwall, Panama, Shelton purchased 12 beehives from a New Yorker and transported them by rail, ‘bongo’ pack mule, and steamship to San Francisco. Only enough bees survived to fill one hive, but these quickly propagated, laying the foundation for California’s modern bee-keeping industry.

Thanks to Christopher A. Shelton, his work with honeybees and the pollination of such species as: cherries, peaches, soybeans, apples, pears, pumpkins, cucumbers,  raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, our valley became recognized for its orchards, and farms. Though virtually all of the farms in San José have been replaced with homes and high-tech we still feel a connection with those early days. Many in this valley have parents or grandparents who worked in orchards or at packing plants. Now something urgent is happening with honeybees of which we all need to be aware.

Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate in California and twenty other states.  Experts are busy gathering information from beekeepers and looking desperately for a cause. They are befuddled because the bottoms of the hives are free of dead bees. The bees just seem to vanish. Beekeepers are resorting to importing bees from Australia so our summer crops will be pollinated in time.

If the collapse of the bee colonies is found to be the result of a virus, fungus, mites, poor bee nutrition, pesticides, or bee stress scientists will find a solution, but what of the possibility of terrorist involvement?  Bees are already linked to the US war on terror.   

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