Ravenblog: Bees Disappearing and Travel Adventures

In the aftermath of The Spy, I have finally gotten into one of my library books, a collection of essays called The Bird Man and the Lap Dancer, by Eric Hansen. Each essay tells of another of Eric’s travel adventures and the people he met along the way. If you’ve read any of P.J. O’Rourke’s books, Eric Hansen’s stories are just about as entertaining and in equally outlandish, fascinating places, but without the wars that O’Rourke was travelling to cover. Hansen seems like one of those restless souls that just keeps moving from job to job, situation to situation, and tropical island to tropical island. I’ve only read 3 of his essays so far, so I’ll reserve further commentary for the book review, but so far it’s a good book.

I’ve been watching a bunch of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple episodes on youtube, but I also have watched 2 documentaries on bees today, one just on honeybees and the way their societies and hives are organized, and one on honeybee colony collapse disorder that somehow managed to just barely discuss the role pesticides play in killing bees. They did mention this threat to bees, but without rejecting it, they turned to a virus as the focus of the rest of the show, though the virus was only found in 3 countries at the time, and colony collapse was occuring in many more places. Monsanto no doubt would have sued them had they been more honest, and I’m sure there were equally good reasons why all the researchers were focused just on the bees still in the hives, not the ones that went to the fields and never came back. It seems logical to me, after watching too many murder mysteries, that researchers needed to collect bee corpses from the fields and tally how they died to find out what is causing the bees to disappear, since they did figure out that the bees leave the hives and just never come back. The problems that the bees still in the hives exhibit, including fungus and viruses, certainly can’t be helping, but those bees were not the missing bees or they would not have still been in the hives for the researchers to find so easily. And, if pesticides are a main culprit, tallying deaths of bees in the fields would reveal that threat as the one behind these colony collapses.

I have seen honeybees in my garden lately, though not as many as my flowers should be drawing at this time of the year. I also have been seeing a few species of native bees in my garden. Colorado has over 50 species of native bees, that normally get pushed out of prime territory by the bigger non-native honeybees. [Did you realize that honeybees are technically an invasive species in North America? They make honey and pollinate equally non-native plants rather well, so we encourage them at the expense of native species, but they are from Europe, not North America, and we have hundreds of native species that are consistently displaced by them.] My favorite local bees are green bees, tiny fast-flying metallic green bees that are too small to effectively sting or bite humans. But, last year I saw a turquoise bee, a little shorter-bodied than a green bee, and if I see one again (to be sure I was not hallucinating before, those turquoise bees may become my favorite. The other native bee I’ve seen here this week was a bit bigger than the green bee, and had a black abdomen with metallic gold, thin stripes. And, at Mom’s house I saw the usual brown bees- those do bite, though not often, and some people get a bump like a mosquito bit where brown bees bite them. They are not aggressive though, and they pollinate many of our lovely wildflowers.

I have watched a lot more than just films on bees, of course, but I’ll keep this account fairly readable tonight. I will say that watching that second bee film got me started again thinking about how poorly educated the general public is to be making informed decisions about Monsanto and what to do about them and their products. They can do as they please right now because so few people know what their poisons and genetically modified plants really are about. All the hype against GMO’s just plays into their hands because so many sensible people see the hype and dismiss the whole issue. So long as anti-Monsanto activists lump all GMO’s together as if they are all the same (they aren’t) and so long as the huge problems- monopolization of our food supply, the inability of our governments to contradict Monsanto because of their possession of so many powerful political positions, and the ability of Monsanto to intimidate and criminally harass farmers and agricultural workers who don’t toe their line- are mixed in together in one giant mess with all the GMO labelling and toxic gene splicing issues, the problem of Monsanto seems too big and complicated to address. I am getting back into writing this year, and I think my first book-sized project may have to be a genetics book for the general public that focuses on the genetics needed to understand current events.

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About Ravenmount

Independent science nerd/writer/music blogger/arts enthusiast/theorist currently in Colorado.
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