By David Waxman
In response to the increasing loss of their hives over the past few years and “the failure of otherwise good human beings to do much about it,” honeybees in the United States have announced they will stop pollinating most fruits, nuts, and vegetables as of May 1, 2015. As a humanitarian gesture, bees will continue to pollinate a limited number of apples and carrots for use in hospitals, school lunches and daycare centers, according to a statement released Thursday by the American Federation of Honeybees.
Since 2006, nearly one-third of all beehives in the U.S. have disappeared, a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Neither bees nor people have identified a specific cause of CCD, but several possibilities are being studied. These include pesticide exposure, parasites, fatherless hives, and soaring unemployment among so-called worker bees.
In a testy exchange on the Sunday morning news show “Buzz,” a human reporter asked a panel of bees if they weren’t overreacting by calling for a nationwide pollination strike. In an attempt at humor, the reporter then held up a lady’s bonnet and made a buzzing sound. At this, the normally sedate bees flew up and around the room in a noisy rage until the show’s staff eventually persuaded them to take their seats again.
“You’re damn right we have bees in our bonnets,” a bee shouted at the reporter. “We also have parasitic mites in our guts and polysyllabic chemicals in our lunches. You’d think people would do a little more to help us considering that they benefit big-time from all the nectar-gathering and pollen-spreading we do.”
The reporter countered, “It’s not as if you have other skills or anything else to do. You’re bumblebees, you’re just a bunch of—ouch! Owww!” Stung in the neck by an angry bee, the reporter rushed off stage and the show broke for a commercial.
“Now maybe he’ll let us bee,” a panelist was heard to mutter.
Angry Young Bees Not A Factor In CCD
Researchers have dispelled one myth about CCD—the common belief that it is somehow related to the activities of a radical movement of disaffected bee youth. The movement’s nihilistic fringe has made its slogan—To Bee or Not to Bee—the centerpiece of a nationwide graffiti campaign, unnerving many hives already reeling from CCD.
“In truth the number of radicals is very small and they have nothing to do with the loss of our colonies,” said Donald Honeybock, a worker bee at the Institute for Beehavioral Research in Los Alamos, NM. “They create the illusion they’re everywhere by gathering flying speed and then grazing or ‘buzzing’ the tops of many hives. They’re also not as dangerous as their appearance and aggressive flight patterns make them seem. Just because a few bees wear all black and smoke unfiltered cigarettes doesn’t mean they’re a threat. These are just kids posing as ‘bad bees’ and showing off their stingers, which they probably don’t even know how to use yet.”