Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Rant on Bees

Welll not on bees, but a rant about bees.

Honey is a miracle food. Packed with nutrition, it is also anti-biotic and anti-viral. It's been used as a dressing for wounds, with pretty much the same results as capsicum cream. Wounds heal faster, without infection, and scarring (anecdotally) is minimized.

The human race uses enormous amounts of honey. It's almost as high on the sweetening list as sugar and where sugar is rare it's higher. Every culture in the world (well, every culture I've studied) uses honey.

Honey is made by bees. So, without bees, there is no honey. Duh.

And the bees are dying. Honeybees in particular are becoming an endangered species. I seldom see them anymore in my garden, although the hornets and wasps are thriving...

But that's not the point. The bees are dying. People scream because they don't know why, but if they thought about it it would make perfect sense. So three points to prevent this from being a VERY long post.

1 Honey is bee food. Professional beekeepers take the honey to sell and feed their bees sugarwater, as if this makes up for the lack. Then they feed the bees antibiotics when the hive fails because of malnutrition.

2 Breeders keep Queen bee hives to breed queens for captive hives. They sell these queens to beekeepers across the world. In a wild hive, the first emerging Queen kills all her unhatched rivals, thus eliminating the competition and the weakest genes. Breeders make sure that all the queens survive. They then sell these weakened strains, the second generation queens hatch and swarm into the wild, passing on the weakened strains to the wild hives.

3 People (in general) don't like bees around, so when they find a wild hive they either destroy it or call a beekeeper to come get it, thus perpetuating the cycle and ensuring that those bees will work all summer for their honey only to see it stolen and be fed on sugarwater.

In essence the problem is not the bees--it's the people, as usual. I guess bees are just insects, in most people's minds, and can be exploited into oblivion without consequence. When there aren't any bees to pollinate the crops, just hire a hive. And when the hives are all gone? Then what?

It's closer than most people think.

Maybe a rant on the responsibilities of humans to domesticated animals would be in order.

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