The Bees Bounce

Karl Rove isn’t the only one getting out of town; it looks like the Earth’s bee population is taking off as well. Up to 60 percent of bees have vanished from the West Coast and 70 percent from the East Coast and Texas. The mass exodus is attributed to a vague syndrome called Colony Collapse Disorder, but I’ll get to that in a minute…

What I think is amazing is that not very much is being made of this mysterious Bee vanishing. You might say to yourself, “what do I care if the bees disappear?” Honey is just bee puke and the thought of a bunch of bulimic bees collectively puking a jar full of thick amber throw up… well that’s just disgusting. Besides who likes getting stung? And an animal that hasn’t evolved past suicide as a defense measure is sort of suspect anyway, right? Plus they’ve been around for millions of years and their society hasn’t progressed one bit. Matriarchal totalitarianism, that’s hardly a meaningful contribution to civilization. And while all those statements are totally valid and understandable, it might surprise you to know that bees don’t just puke honey and sting people. They also pollinate a sizeable portion of the fruits and vegetables we humans eat.

According to Zac Browning the vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation, “Every third bite we consume in our diet is dependent on a honeybee to pollinate that food.” They pollinate at least $14 billion dollars worth of crops in the U.S. alone, including apples, nuts, pears, avocados, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, celery, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers and cucumbers. Along with citrus fruit, peaches, kiwis, cherries, blueberries, cranberries, strawberries and melons. (From here.)

Einstein once said, “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then Man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more life.” So no bees equals no food. (And no food equals no us.) So unlike losing Karl Rove, losing the bees is something that we definitely need to be upset about.

What makes matters worse is that nobody is quite sure what’s causing Colony Collapse Disorder, only that the bee’s aren’t coming home to the hive and they haven’t left a forwarding address. Some theories blame pesticides, some blame mites or UFO’s, and others claim that cell phones are disrupting bees navigational systems causing them to spazz out and get lost in the wilderness. (Steve jobs I’m looking at you.) There’s even a theory that claims the missing bees evolved into Namura Jellyfish causing the vast Jelly plague in Japan.

Some scientists doubt that theory.

Whatever the cause, one thing’s for sure. We can add disappearing bees to the long list of possible cause for impending human annihilation. Put it right after global warming, but at least three stops up from the Rapture. (Sorry Bushies.)

Think of the bees the way we should be thinking about the polar ice caps. And I don’t mean as inconvenient barriers to Arctic oil reserves, but as the metaphorical canaries in the coal mine. Without the bees, we’re fucked. What does it say about a society that is so disconnected from its food supply that it barely understands or cares that no pollinating insects equals NO food supply?

But hey why trouble ourselves with it too much? Big Love’s on tonight and that show is awesome. Instead lets take a collective walk through the park, and maybe even stop to smell those beautiful, fragrant flowers… while we still have them.

And speaking of (birds and) bees…

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