Man feels sting as bees ‘sick of humans’
The miners sacrifice chickens and give money to children in the hope that the spirits will smile on them in a country where neither Christianity nor Islam has entirely displaced traditional animist beliefs.
“Every morning I pray to God to help me find big diamonds,” said Laurent Guitili. “One day for sure I will find a big one. Then I will be able to have my own mine and earn all the money I need.”
When one of the miners does find a gem, the person who holds the concession takes it and sells it, giving them back between 30 and 60 euros per carat.
Good quality diamonds sell on locally for around three times that.
But at least in Boda miners are paid. In the north of the country, where some of the country’s richest mines are still in the hands of armed groups, they are forced to hand over what they find at gunpoint.
The Kimberley Process, the international PRETORIA — In a worrying development which could threaten food production, South Africa’s traditionally tough honey bees — which had been resistant to disease — are now getting “sick of humans”, with the population of the crucial pollinators collapsing, experts say.
The seriousness of the global problem was highlighted when US President Barack Obama announced a plan last month to make millions of acres (hectares) of land more bee-friendly.
Loss of habitat, the increasing use of pesticides and growing vulnerability to disease are blamed by many critics for the plight of the honey bees.
The environmental group Greenpeace, which has launched a campaign to save the insects, says that 70 out of the top 100 human food crops, which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition, are pollinated by bees.
In South Africa, an outbreak of the lethal bacterial disease foulbrood is spreading rapidly for the first time in recent history, says Mike Allsopp, honey bee specialist at the Agricultural Research Council in Stellenbosch in the Western Cape province.
“It’s exactly the same as around the world, the bees are sick of humans and the pressures and the stresses humans are putting on them,” said Mr Allsopp.
“In the past they were less vulnerable because they weren’t stressed by intensive bee-keeping and pesticides and pollution.”
The foulbrood hitting South Africa is the American strain of the disease, he said. The country’s bees have previously coped with the European version.
The fear is that the disease could body which tries to stop the sale of so-called blood diamonds, slapped a ban on the export of diamonds from CAR after the overthrow of president Francois Bozize in March 2013 by Seleka rebels threw the country into civil war. The mainly Muslim insurgents had allegedly funded their revolt with illegal diamonds.
Seleka and rival “anti-balaka” Christian militias have since battled to control the mines, the economic lifeblood of the impover- spread north through Africa, where hundreds of thousands of people work in small-scale bee farming, Mr Allsopp said.
“It is a ticking time bomb. Every colony that I’ve looked at that has clinical foulbrood has died, and we’re not seeing colonies recover.”
When honey bee farmer Brendan Ashley-cooper discovered foulbrood in his colonies in 2009, he knew the worst was yet to come.
“We thought we were going to have this major explosion of foulbrood,” said Ashley-cooper, a 44-year-old based in Cape Town. “I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what the extent of it was. I ished country, with smuggling booming.
“If you are armed you can have diamonds,” said former prime minister Martin Ziguele. “And with those diamonds you can buy more arms and fund your rebellion.”
French and UN peacekeeping troops have tried to wrest control of the mines from the armed groups so the legal trade in diamonds can restart, vital to putting the shattered economy back on its feet.
The government hopes the embargo can was just worried about the bees.”
Six years later, the nightmare has come true for the third-generation beekeeper as hives die off.
The state of South Africa’s bees has never been as bad as it is now, he says.
Bees under siege Foulbrood attacks the bee larvae, leading to the collapse of the colony. It is spread when bees raid the dead colony, bringing back sporeinfected honey to their colony, or by the importation of contaminated bee products.
While North America and Europe have battled foulbrood for centuries, South Africa’s bees have stayed healthy — a resilience attributed to the country’s diverse bee population, which has naturally fought off disease and pests in the past, as well as strict regulations that require any imported bee products to be irradiated.
Yet today the hardy South African bees are under siege. “Foulbrood has spread massively in the last five months, it has now spread over a 500 by 400-kilometre (about 300 by 250-mile) area where most beekeeping operations are infected,” said Mr Allsopp.
“It is growing rapidly and I can think of no reason why it will stop