Book review: A World Without Bees by Alison Benjamin and Brian MCCallum (Published by Guardian Books)
From London to Los Angeles, from Slovenia to Taiwan, honeybees are dying. In America, one in three hives was left lifeless at the beginning of 2008; in France, the death rate might be 60%. In Britain, a government minister warns that honeybees could be extinct within a decade.
If or when the world loses its black-and-yellow workers, agriculture will collapse. Civilization itself might be the next victim. A third of all we eat, and much of what we wear, relies on pollination by honeybees.
What is behind this catastrophe? Viruses, parasites, pesticides and climate change have all been blamed. Some accuse beekeepers themselves of working their charges to death by shipping their hives thousands of miles every year to different monoculture sites, all in the name of agribusiness profits. In this fascinating book, two keen amateur apiarists investigate the claims and counterclaims with the help of scientists and beekeepers in Europe, America and beyond. And they ask the question that will soon be on everyone's lips: is there any possible way of saving the honeybees - and with them, the world as we know it?