Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bee Colony Collapse Disorder Hits Sombor Serbia

Many more Serbs keep bees than people do in the US. You'll find multiple homemade honey stands at nearly every greenmarket in the country, and everyone's granny or cousin or next door neighbor keeps bees.

If you're an American with Serb connections, like my father who has now married off two children to Serbs, your kitchen is packed with jars of homemade honey, carried over each time someone is visiting from the old country. If you're an American who is married to a Serb like me, chances are your US house is the only one in the neighborhood with a beehive in the back yard.

We had high hopes that our little US beehive, hidden away in an otherwise bee-free neighborhood, would not get hit with the terrible Colony Collapse Disorder that's savaged much of the commercial beekeeping industry in the US and Western Europe in the past 24 months. But this afternoon we learned all of our bees, so happily prospering this last Summer, are dead.

Our Sombor Serbia next door neighbor, Andre, also reports he's had unusually high hive losses this winter - 50 of the 80 beehives he keeps in a field by the Danube have been completely decimated. (Andre is pictured in the 3rd photo in this past Blog of mine.) It's without precedent in his 30-odd year career as a beekeeper. While we mourn our bees, it was more of a hobby for us in the US. In Serbia, often income from bee products can make the difference between being able to get by on a tiny pension or being in terrible financial difficulty.

As for the farmers in Serbia, America and the rest of the world (Colony Collapse Disorder reportedly started hitting Japan in 2007), bee losses will in turn hurt crops. For example, California's almond crops are nearly entirely dependent on bee fertilization. And that's just the start, scientists say if all or most bees die, the human race could be next. We're more interdependent on bees than most people realize.

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