Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen

Fruitless Fall explores the perilous state of honey bees, which in recent years have been dying at unprecedented levels. Jacobsen sifts through the evidence and current theories for the decline -- dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder -- and concludes that a number of factors are contributing.

In addition to harmful mites, which have played a significant role in decimating hives, the author spends much of his focus on the components and byproducts of industrial agriculture, particularly pesticides and the modern apiary practice of working bees almost year-round and sending them to different states to pollinate different crops based on the season. The net result, quite literally, is sick, over-stressed bees.

Jacobsen concludes the book with a skein of hope by showing what some innovative beekeepers are doing to reverse the alarming trend. These practices include re-breeding hives with hardy, Russian honey bees and allowing bees to build more natural hives.

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