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A Spring without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1599214320
ISBN-10: 1599214326
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Editorial Reviews


“At last an authoritative account of the vanishing bees: one of the most puzzling environmental problems of recent times. . . . at once a great detective story and an object lesson of how to live in harmony with the living planet, our home.” --Thomas E. Lovejoy, President, the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and Environment


"Who could imagine a spring without bees? One might say this is impossible, especially the kids. Michael Schacker's eye-opening story A Spring without Bees is a must-read for all of us who want to live in a sustainable and regenerating world for many generations to come." --Anthony Rodale, Chairman Emeritus, The Rodale Institute

"The loss of the bees is a four-fold tragedy: for the beekeepers, the growers, the consumers and of course for the bees themselves. Michael Schacker's fascinating and enlightening book is an important new look at the great mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder." --Dr. James Amrine, President of the Acarology Society of America, Medical Entomologist, West Virginia University

"In a debate clearly underpinned with political and commercial positioning and controversy over scientific fact and assumption, Michael Schacker’s multi-faceted review of the dispute to date, and its possible consequences, helps us clearly understand what is needed to reverse the bee decline threatening world food supply." --Dr. Kurt Johnson, ecologist and ethicist; co-author of Nabokov’s Blues:  The Scientific Odyssey of a Literary Genius
"A Spring Without Bees is an object lesson in just how delicate the web of life is. It sounds an urgent call to action on behalf of one of our economy's tiniest laborers but also asks that we re-think the environmental consequences of the entire way we do business." --Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

“Michael Schacker offers another important rationale for organic farming methods as a way to protect the fruit and vegetable supply.”--Dr. Timothy J. LaSalle, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, The Rodale Institute

Bookseller Quote:
"If you read nothing else this summer, you must read this book - it will open your eyes and mind to the ecological impact you have on life every single day.  For the generation who ingored Rachel Carson, or who didn't read "Silent Spring", here's your second chance.  For those who dismissed Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", pay attention now!
This book is written so that everyone will understand this impending disaster.  It educated me on the significant impact that bees make on our food supply and the devastating impact the disappearance of bees would have.  We can (hopefully) make a difference but we need to seriously address the use of insecticides in the United States in order to prevent further Colony Collapse Disorder and worse.  Read labels, learn what's in the stuff you use, and act now.
This is the most impactful book I have read in a very long time.  I strongly recommend it."
Pam White
Skyland Books
West Jefferson, NC

From the Back Cover

On the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rachel Carson, the world faces a new environmental disaster, from a chemical similar to DDT. This time the culprit appears to be IMD, or imidacloprid, a relatively new but widely used insecticide in the United States. Many beekeepers and some researchers think IMD is the new prime suspect for the devastating syndrome known as Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, which has raised the annual die-off rate of honey bees to 30% of all the beehives in the United States. They say even trace amounts of IMD make bees lose their desire to feed, which would quickly lead to the collapse of their colony. After several days, there are few or no bees left in the hive. Since honey bees are essential to the production of fruit, nut, and vegetable crops around the world, their demise could spell catastrophe for our food supply and global economy.

In a riveting detective story that melds science and politics, Michael Schacker investigates the case of the missing bees, examining the many theories on the cause, including cell phones, mites, new pathogens, and bee management. He then examines the evidence against IMD. The book does much more than illuminate the scientific research, however. Using CCD as a metaphor for our own human hive, Schacker asks:  Are the bees trying to tell us something? Could this be the warning sign of a much larger crisis looming directly ahead? Might humankind suffer someday from “Civilization Collapse Disorder”?  And how must we change our human hive in order to ensure its survival?

Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, A Spring without Bees is a compelling cautionary tale and a clarion call for action.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1 edition (June 3, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599214326
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599214320
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,598,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Maureen Radl on July 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ending Colony Collapse Disorder

Following in the footsteps of Rachel Carson, Michael Schacker again sounds the alarm that the normal functioning of the natural world is still being disrupted by man-made substances. In A SPRING WITHOUT BEES: HOW COLONY COLLAPSE DISORDER HAS ENDANGERED OUR FOOD SUPPLY, he carefully investigates the plight of the European honeybees, many of which have died or been unable to find their way back to their hives. In the process of solving this disturbing mystery, Schacker examines the numerous theories that have been proposed as causes of CCD and reveals a new one--which is most probable, partly because it is supported by what has been known for decades about how products used to control harmful insects can also destroy helpful ones.

Schacker presents convincing arguments, including the experience of French beekeepers which point in the direction of neurotoxins that have changed certain pesticide formulas in the past five years. These poisons build up with repeated applications and remain in the soil for years. When the honeybee collects the flower nectar, it can "intoxicate" the bees to the point where they can no longer find their way home, causing the mysterious disappearance of whole hives. Partial exposure or eating poisoned winter stores of honey can weaken or kill the bees as well. The pervasive use of these pesticides, not just for agriculture but for lawns, golf courses, and parks makes it impossible for the honeybee to avid contamination. He further explains that human exposure to these pesticides is also a health risk, especially for children who play on these contaminated lawns.

But Schacker also offers hope for the honeybee, for humankind, and for the planet if we begin to act quickly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really riveting, easy to understand account of the mystery of the disappearing bees. The book begins with a fascinating description of the sophisticated bee behavior and hive society. It reminded me of the first time I became educated on ant colonies, marvelling at their intricate, organized societies. The details are right down to the varying roles of each bee (nurse bees, cleaning squads, honey-processors, foragers, drones, etc.). The book logically takes the reader through every theory on CCD (Colony collapse disorder) proposed thus far, along with scientfic references and statistics on all documented research. It challenges the association between university research and the corporations that finance that research, questions the FDA rules on chemical pesticide approvals, offers suggestions for how each individual can assist in solving CCD, and repeatedly gives kudos to Rachel Carson's 1962 revelations in her ground-breaking book. This is an easy read, very appealing, contemporary, up-to-date account of this controversial, potentially civilization-devasting issue. Especially relevant given today's global economic woes in terms of oil, crop production, and world hunger.
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Format: Hardcover
Schacker's book is an excellent resource for the well-educated person who wants a broad and detailed review of Colony Collapse Disorder. It is not, however, the final word on the cause: Schacker takes one theory -- that CCD is caused by the pesticide imidacloprid (IMD) -- and, while making a convincing case, fails to account for some reported CCD die-offs that are *not* consistent with the pesticide theory. The work also wanders into topics that are arguably not related to CCD, as mentioned in other reviews. That said, the book is timely and well-researched, and presents an array of suggested responses to CCD that regular people can implement, from planting bee-friendly gardens, to keeping bees, to challenging government inaction/incompetence.

I bought this book as a new hardback because I feel the need to be as well educated as possible about CCD. I also recommend the website for the documentary The Vanishing of the Bees.

Schacker reviews some of the CCD theories that have made cameos in the news media over the last two years, including a thorough and amusing dismissal of the "cell phones are killing the bees!" story. After rejecting many theories, he presents the story of CCD in France (a story we've heard relatively little about in the U.S.) and explains why French beekeepers came to suspect the pesticide IMD. It's a compelling narrative, and there is data in the U.S. that supports it. However, one of our country's top bee researchers, Dr. Eric Mussen of UC Davis, recently recounted in his newsletter (repeated by apiarist Kim Flottum in his "Catch the Buzz" newsletter) that the pattern of CCD's spread looks more like a disease than pesticide misuse.

My point is, it's too early in the crisis to settle on one hypothesis.
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Shacker's book is a wake-up call to the world. It is by far the best told, best researched and most passionate of the published accounts about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), laying out in vivid detail CCD's devastating, life-threatening effects on bees and on the human food supply. Bees are indispensible to the natural reproduction (pollenizing) of crucial plants we all rely on for food.

One reviewer here asserts this book contains woo-woo science (it doesn't; everything is documented). The same reviewer then suggests we might genetically engineer bees that can tolerate the neuro-toxin that France and Germany have banned. Excuse me? That's worse than woo woo. It's irresponsible. Genetically engineer bees to withstand neurotoxin so chemical companies can continue to put it in the ecosystemime ? This reviewer clearly does not get it. Five more years of tests and proofs before suspending the use of the suspect substance and there will be no hive populations left to resuscitate.

European bans on the neurotoxins in question are based on simple tests that vested lobbies in the US have managed to avoid so far. Would anyone suggest we engineer songbirds to withstand DDT and bring DDT back into mainstream farming? How about breeding people to tolerate eating sewage and sate their hunger at land fills? An equally nutty idea.

Schacker has clearly done his research and answers each speculation as to cause with the facts on the ground. By citing conclusions reached by scientists in Europe, Schacker issues a call to the United States to look seriously at these causes and perform the same tests.

If you're looking to inform yourself thoroughly on this agricultural disaster in the making, you're first stop, and your best, is here, at "A Spring Without Bees."

People can also help spread the word about CCD at Schacker's website: [...]
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