Issue 425 of New Internationalist

Reader-owned global journalism

September 2009

September 2009

Do you know what apples, almonds, broccoli, cashews, garlic, mangoes, peaches, raspberries and tea have in common? Give up? They all depend on bees to help with their sexual reproduction.

In fact, did you know that every third bite of food that you consume depends on our buzzing buddies, the bees? The busy little gals (the workers are unfertilized females) do a lot for us by pollinating plants and flowers worldwide.

Unfortunately, they're dying by the millions and no-one knows why. It’s safe to say our world won’t be the same without them.

‘No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more... people’ is a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein, though there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that he actually said it. Not that it matters. The attribution is less important than the content.

This issue examines the mystery of the disappearing bees.


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In this issue

  • Some call it 'live aid'. Some call it 'dead aid'. The debate is raging. *Vanessa Baird* and *Jonathan Glennie* tell the story so far...
  • The top tourist destination in Niger until the late 1980s, the city of Agadez – located in the dead centre of the country – is today no more than a shadow of its former self.
  • *Wayne Ellwood* investigates the case of the missing bees.
  • Gathering wild honey is an age-old tradition in South India. *Mari Marcel Thekaekara* and her husband Stan see how it’s done.
  • *Nick Harvey* reports on the position of the Hmong – both inside Laos and the bleak refugee camps of Thailand.
  • Pakistan's army offensive has wrongfooted the Taliban. But the larger war of ideas has yet to be won. *Pervez Hoodbhoy* explains.
  • *Jonathan Glennie* takes on both the aid optimists and the pessimists.