Thursday, June 26, 2008

National Pollinator Week, June 22 - 28, 2008

I personally mourn for the bees we've lost in this country.

In fact, I'm rooting for the allegedly hyperaggressive "Africanized killer bees" because they seem like North America's last great hope to keep at least one prolific pollinator (and honey producer) going strong. Despite prejudicial hype, "killer" bees are simply the apiculturist's domesticated variety of choice in southern Africa, where they are preyed upon by the even weirder, wilder and parasitic Cape honeybee.

It's sad, but like the soaring, cathedral-like boughs of the existentially challenged American Elm, merely European honeybees have bought the farm. Maybe they all have.

My front lawn is full of clover — but no bees. I have a redbud tree in the front yard; every spring, it should be full of bees — but isn't. Even the little black or green native bees that sometimes come around have been missing from the turbulent seasons of 2008.

Opportunities for bees abound in this suburban neighborhood — honeysuckle is a weed in better hedges everywhere — but the feast is silent. The missing murmur of a million bees this summer is even more eldritch than Rachel Carson's Silent Spring.

Maybe it's sunspots. We're in a solar minimum right now. Or maybe there are clues in literature or folklore about bees absconding from their hives... [Technical Note: This is a pause so pregnant, you might as well try here. I prefer not to quote Whittier directly, for fear of getting stuck in that Victorian Age stuff the old man imported from the famous treacle mines in Pudsey; prefer honey, myself. Natural provenance.]

In a less jocular vein, here's a more scholarly reference book, a discussion of CCD and the politics of its possible connection to Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), a link to The Buzz, another link to the exotic Hawaiian Queen breeder site, plus a link to National Pollinator Week, June 22 - 28. Enjoy!

Further foraging (at

A Spring without Bees: How Colony Collapse Disorder Has Endangered Our Food Supply (Hardcover), by Michael Schacker.
"...On the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rachel Carson, the world faces a new environmental disaster, from a chemical similar to DDT. This time the culprit appears to be IMD, or imidacloprid, a relatively new but widely used insecticide in the United States...." The author blames the Bush EPA for environment-hostile pesticide deregulation. Maybe so, at that. Alert consumers will recognize IMD as the latest active ingredient in flea and tick collars.
60 Minutes - What's Wrong With The Bees? (February 24, 2008) (DVD)

Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis (Hardcover), by Rowan Jacobsen.

Bees Besieged (Paperback), by Bill Mares.

A World Without Bees (Hardcover), by Alison Benjamin, Brian McCallum.
"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."  — Albert Einstein
Bad Beekeeping, by Ron Miksha.

NOVA: Bees - Tales From the Hive (2000)

The Bees of the World (Hardcover), by Charles D. Michener. [$$$ !]

Beekeeping for Dummies (Paperback), by Howland Blackiston.

The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden (Paperback), by Kim Flottum.



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