About a week ago I got a text message at work:
“Have you ever been stung by a bee?”
It was from my older sister, Madame W. I tell her that, no, I haven’t been stung by a bee, per se, but I’ve been stung plenty of times by Yellow Jackets and Wasps.
“Ok. Just wanted to see if you were allergic.”
These were those fateful first words that catapult her and I into our grand experiment of reading books about beekeeping, signing up for classes, and trying to get everything we need to start our own apiary. And just yesterday she finally revealed our grand scheme to all of her friends.
“Great. Don’t get stung!” Seemed to be the sensible reaction. But when I thought about bees, their stingers became the least of my worries.
In early 2007, news outlets around the world began reporting the drastic decline of the bee population. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), it is when a beehive mysteriously falls apart despite the fact that nearly the entire order of the hive was as it should be.
If this is not even slightly alarming to you, it should be.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, ⅓ of the human diet is made up of crops from insect-pollinated plants, of those crops nearly 80% of that pollination is done by the honeybee. That means that about 2 out of 3 produce products you have in your fridge/tossed into your lunch bag/shoved into your mouth is the result of bees.
What caused this disease amongst our winged insect friends? Quite honestly, a few things, including possible fungi and maybe even cellphone reception. But a large contributing factor has been linked to pesticides and insecticides that can transfer to the flowers and nectar of plants. The EPA has approved the motion to use mass quantities of chemicals on our produce supply because the amount in the pollen was not enough to actually kill the bees but, unforeseen by capitalism, it has resulted in some dire events. A leading bee research firm, Beeologics (we love the “bee” pun… who knows why…), recently pointed the finger to the company Monsanto and their pesticides and genetically modified crops (GMOs) for being the culprit.
Don’t know Monsanto?
This is the company that has become famous for taking the potato, decimating the boundaries of evolution, spitting in the eye of a higher power (if that’s your thing), and creating an unholy union between the potato and a bacteria so that the potato can produce its own pesticide to ward off insects. And you then get to ingest that pesticide. Don’t worry it’s safe... Or how about when thousands of farmers in India committed suicide after using Monsanto’s failed genetically modified crops. In light of these facts, it becomes little wonder that Monsanto won Natural Society’s Worst Company of 2011 Award.
So, when Beeologics pointed the finger at Monsanto, Monsanto did the most sensible and responsible action for a large corporation to do. It bought them out.
If you are not totally freaked out right now, you should be.
The result of this complete control over the top honeybee research should be obvious given this company’s recent history- Monsanto will either profit off of some sort of new and most likely just as awful chemical solution or just dig a hole, drop this mess in, and then turn around and bury it. Bees be damned.
So, what does this tirade of mine boil down to? That when I think about bees, I’m not afraid of being stung, I’m afraid that there will be no more bees around to sting me.
My own personal goal from this experiment and this blog isn’t just being able to start a new fun hobby with my sister, or capture a great picture of her running and squealing as a bee chases her (this is very likely), or even document the
possible probably bee stings we’ll suffer. I hope with this new hobby and this new blog to interest, excite, and spark readers to take on their own beehive, or even plant their own organic garden. To learn that you don’t have to be an unwashed hippy (or hipster) to take control over what you eat and how it is grown.
And maybe we’ll help save the bees too.