Bees “Sick of Humans”

Bees “Sick of Humans”Bees “Sick of Humans”

In a worrying development that could threaten food production, South Africa’s traditionally tough honey bees – which had been resistant to disease – are now getting “sick of humans,” with the population of the crucial pollinators collapsing, experts say.

Loss of habitat, increasing use of pesticides and growing vulnerability to disease are blamed by many critics for the plight of the honeybees. It is said that 70 out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90% of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.

In South Africa, an outbreak of the lethal bacterial disease foulbrood is spreading rapidly for the first time in recent history, says Mike Allsopp, honeybee specialist at the Agricultural Research Council in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape Province, reports AFP.

“It’s exactly the same around the world, the bees are sick of humans and the pressures and the stresses humans are putting on them. In the past they were less vulnerable because they weren’t stressed by intensive beekeeping and pesticides and pollution.”

The foulbrood hitting South Africa is the American strain of the disease, he said. The country’s bees have previously coped with the European version. The fear is that the disease could spread north through Africa, where hundreds of thousands of people work in small-scale bee farming.

“It is a ticking time bomb. Every colony that I’ve looked at that has clinical foulbrood has died, and we’re not seeing colonies recover.”