Daily Illuminator

January 8, 2011: Of The Birds And The Bees

In 2007, beekeepers around the world around the world reported abrupt disappearances of colonies of the Western honey bee. They weren't stolen; the worker bees simply left the hive and never returned. The scientific community came up with a snappy name for the phenomenon: colony collapse disorder. Even Doctor Who integrated the vanishing insects into a storyline during Series Four.

Earlier this month, thousands of red-winged blackbirds were found dead, with no visible trauma, in Arkansas.  A few hundred miles away, tens of thousands of drum fish washed up on the shores of the Arkansas River, sick and dying. Flocks of several hundred dead birds have been reported in Louisiana, and now Sweden says they have a flock of mysteriously dead birds. Plus, four species of bumblebees are virtually extinct.

Signs of the apocaylpse? Evidence of man's terrible effect on the ecosystem? Pure coincidences?

Whatever it shakes out to be, I'm just glad we never published an INWO card called something like "Sudden Extinction." At least the conspiracy theorists won't be able to claim we predicted this one.

-- Paul Chapman

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