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That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bee Back Soon?

By HSI - Jenny Thompson [hsiresearch@healthiernews.com]

"If all the bees disappeared tomorrow, humans would have only four years left on the planet."

That quote is attributed to Albert Einstein, who was neither a beekeeper nor an entomologist.

And even though it's interesting to imagine the master of time, space, and the universe pondering bees, there's no clear evidence that actually links the quote to him. No matter. Whatever the source of the quote, it reminds us that life on earth is a web of interrelated parts. Take away a critical part, and the web may unravel. And bees are a critical part. And worse - it seems they're being taken away. If this is the end of bees, it's going to be rough going for everyone around 2011.

-------------------------------------------- Empty hives --------------------------------------

In the e-Alert "Slow Sugar" (3/22/07), I told you about a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which most of the mature bees in a colony seem to abandon their hives and disappear. CCD has been reported in nearly two-dozen states in the U.S. Some beekeepers have lost from 40 to 90 percent of their bees. In March this problem seemed like an oddity that might not be too far reaching. But earlier this month a USDA official, appearing before the agriculture subcommittee of the House of Representatives, told congressmen that CCD poses a grave threat to as much as $15 billion of the U.S. farm economy.

In recent years, bee populations have come under attack from a type of mite that spreads viruses among honeybees. Some researchers believe this mite may play a role in CDC, prompting a virus that could interfere with bees' navigational abilities. Another similar theory is that pesticides or some other agricultural chemical could produce a neurotoxic reaction, causing a disorientation that prevents bees from returning to the hive.

-------------------------------------------- Apples and oranges -------------------------------

Nearly 100 food crops in North America depend on the honeybee for the majority of their pollination. These crops include apples, oranges, broccoli, blueberries, squash, and melons. This alone makes bees indispensable. But bees also provide three unique products that have been used for nutrition and healing for many centuries: honey, bee pollen, and propolis. Propolis is probably the least well known of the three products. Bees make propolis from tree sap and use it to protect the hive from bacteria, viruses, and fungus. In humans, propolis has been shown to enhance the immune system and treat infections.

In his Daily Dose e-letter, William Campbell Douglass, II, M.D., detailed a study in which bee propolis was tested against Zovirax (a cold sore medication) in treating 90 subjects with herpes. Over 10 days, herpes outbreaks were completely healed in 80 percent of the propolis group compared to just 4 percent in the Zovirax group.

Bees mix honey with pollen to create tiny bee pollen granules that are used to nourish young bees. But these granules are very good for nourishing humans as well. In fact, bee pollen contains more protein than beef, and is considered nature's most potent natural multivitamin. It also contains minerals, enzymes, flavonoids, and all eight essential amino acids. Healers have traditionally used bee pollen to improve vitality and endurance, prevent infectious diseases, and aid in recovery from illness.

And of course, there's honey. In addition to being a nutritious sweetener, raw honey - unfiltered and unpasteurized - is a natural antibiotic that has been shown to aid digestion, treat ulcers, and promote healing when applied directly to skin wounds.

Here's what HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., had to say about honey in a previous e-Alert: "In the raw state (and the word 'raw' is vital here...'uncooked' does not qualify) honey contains enzymes and nutrients that can be very useful to the body. Unfortunately, heat destroys many of them, and commercial honey is heated to keep it from crystallizing inside processing machinery."

I suppose we could live without honey, propolis, and bee pollen if we had to. But there's no way our food supply could survive without the pollinating genius of the honeybee. I'll keep watching for further reports on the mystery of the disappearing bees. A team of scientists is currently studying abandoned hives throughout the U.S., so maybe we'll have some answers soon. Stay tuned.

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