Friday, November 2, 2007

b is for bee

last night as f was clicking the remote he lighted on the local pbs station that was airing nature's 'silence of the bees.' instantly I said STOP! one thing about f is he is a considerate clicker, as long as there are no commercials and the program captures his attention, he will stay put (and pbs is commercial free - at least during the show; I do consider 'this program is brought to you by our good friends....' commercials, no matter what they'd like for us to believe. but that's another topic).

this episode of nature is definitely must-see tv. the program examined the current global crisis impacting not only bees but all of humanity. the rise of 'colony collapse disorder' (ccd) in the u.s. threatens the country's food supply - big time. one scientist stated that the death of the bee and other pollinators is a bigger problem than that of global warming. very serious stuff here!

ccd not only is a problem in the u.s. beekeepers in other countries - france, spain, australia, and china, to name just a few, are experiencing ccd. around the globe beekeepers and scientists are trying to figure out why this is happening and what we can do to stop it. bees are responsible for one-third of the world's supply of food. if bees continue to fail at the current rate, scientists state that there would be no bees by the year 2035. given how fast time flies that's like tomorrow!

twenty-five years ago I worked for an environmental group in new england one of the big issues that I was involved in was the health of honey bees. beekeepers in connecticut were experiencing bee deaths from pesticides. at that time corn growers were widely using micro-encapsulated pesticides on corn, to the bees this pesticide looked like pollen and they would pick it up and haul it back to the hive. this stuff is very toxic to bees and needless to say, the end result wasn't too sweet. but that experience of working with beekeepers and visiting lots of working hives left me with a profound appreciation and love for the humble bee. when it is time to move from being a city mouse to a country mouse, I would like to be a guardian of a hive or two, now I'm only hoping that when this time comes beekeeping will still be an option.

the current crisis with ccd is much, much bigger and complex than what I saw back in the early 1980s in connecticut. bees are the new 'canary in the coalmine' for the planet. the bees are telling us something is seriously wrong - could it be viral, could it be pesticides, could it be cell-phones, could it be the overuse of monoculture, or a parasite at work? maybe the problem is all of the above.

as long as there are bees we can 'bee happy'

picture: lotus and bee, kenilworth aquatic gardens, washington dc. august 2006; insert lavender fields on the grounds of notre-dame de senanque abbey, gordes france. october 2005


jenclair said...

This topic has been of great interest to me since first hearing about it on NPR a couple of years ago. Now there are individuals doing bee autopsies to try to determine the cause.

We have a colony of bees in our "tower"--originally intended as a bat house and storage space, a colony of bees is now well established. This is the second time I've had a bee colony make itself at home in my garden (I'm an inadvertent bee keeper), but this one is huge. I'll try to take some pictures of them, but they are not nearly as active now that the weather has cooled down. During the summer, they crawled out by the hundreds before flying off.

Salty Miss Jill said...

Yes! I've had a minor obsession with apiary science for a few years now (don't ask) and would love to keep bees of my own someday. It's one of the few things that could keep me living in the country.

This was a great episode, by the way. I forwent social plans to stay in and watch this.

msb said...

I wrote a piece on my blog a while back after hearing an NPR news cast. Bees have been on my mind since then alot. One would think an answer will should come soon but as you say they are only the canary's in the cave. I try to have a positve out look but theres so many things going postal these days.

lettuce said...

this is so sad, and depressing.

bees are fascinating and wonderful.

I saw a documentary some time ago and was delighted to learn that bees sometimes get drunk on the pollen, and when drunk may be chucked out of the hive! and then theres the dancing....

Reya Mellicker said...

Do you read Chatoyance? She wrote the most amazing poem about the loss of the bees. I'll see if I can find it and send you the link.

Bees are good.

Reya Mellicker said...

By Lori Witzel of Chatoyance:

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Silent Thriae

They’re called back to sweeter, darker places,
away from our quilts of tailor-made maize, triticale, sorghum and soy. Hives empty as ruins, leaving just enough honey so, drunk on that gold, we’ll forget how to hum in the fields of the tripled bee-goddess.

The children of the Thriae are leaving us; no
good-bye note written by fallen corpses, they
have gone, in secret, to caverns full of wax.
The oracle is silent. Hordes, mining a fools' gold,
riddled how nature speaks herself: but she refused
to speak about the bees, and her queens, dimmed
as if lit by an eclipse, host no more dances.

jude said...

i'm depressed. we have to have bees.

gemellen said...

you continue to fascinate me, k.

kimy said...

thanks everyone for your thoughtful comments. it is affirming to know that there are lots of bee lovers out there and we are concerned.

reya thank you for sharing the beautiful and POWERFUL poem and the link to lori's blog. wow!

Salty Miss Jill said...

Here's another link to a great blogger who also shows love for the bees:

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I have to watch this! I've heard about it and have been watching the bees in my own garden to see if they're affected. I so sincerely hope that what the bees are trying to tell us will be a wake up call for the administrations of the world. A world without bees is unthinkable, they are such magical and remarkable creatures, never mind the role they play in crop pollination. Thanks for posting this, Kim.