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The End Is Nigh

More on the phage in the New York Times. I have to apologize to the beekeepers out there.  I think I treated the whole thing a little lightly. Honestly, it’s starting to sound a little creepy. 

Usually, when a hive dies off, they do so gradually, in the hive, consuming the last of their stores before they slowly succumb and fall in a pile together. Not so with Colony Collapse Disorder.

Imagine David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson striding towards the hive, a hard rain catching the light from the flashlight wedged between Mulder’s head and shoulder.  Scully sweeps the bee yard for clues as Mulder drives the hive tool between the cover and hive body, pries hard and, with a squeal and a wrenching crack, the top comes off. 

“Scully, come look at this!”

“What?”

“Nothing, there’s nothing in here. NOTHING!”

Cue the music and cut to commercial.

According to the Times, “there are no tell-tale bodies either inside colonies or out in front of hives, where bees typically deposit corpses of dead nestmates. What’s more, the afflicted colonies tend to be full of honey, pollen and larvae, as if all of the workers in the nest precipitously decamped on some prearranged signal.”

Gone, without a trace! The Times offers up a host of possibilities: “severe stress brought on by crowding, inadequate nutrition or even the combined effects of prophylactic antibiotics and miticides sprayed by beekeepers to ward off infections…Another, particularly sad, possibility is that accidental exposure to a new pesticide may…interfere with the ability of honeybees to orient and navigate; brain-damaged foraging bees may simply get lost on their way home and starve to death away from the hive.”

Brain-damaged bees, stumbling and collapsing, lost and far from home.  Sad. But at least they haven’t been led, pied piper-style, to a netherworld by alien zombie superbees!

Or have they?

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Blind Leading the Buzzing Blind

Alyssa, a friend of Pmatt’s, dropped me a line the other day and asked if I could show her the beekeeping ropes, so she can start her own hives.  Awesome, an apprentice! I’ll be like the old guy in Karate Kid, the cool master, full of knowledge and experience, but careful not to make the lessons too easy.  My advice will be issued in cryptic and portentous riddles.  Only by arriving at the answer herself will  she understand the meaning behind what I have said, so that my words shall serve as confirmations for her own learning, not a bypass for the school of hard stings.

Or, more likely, I’ll open the hive, immediately drop a frame of angry bees, one will crawl under up my pant leg and I’ll hop and howl around the backyard batting and swatting myself, crying and squealing like a stuck pig. 

Sounds like she’s already well on her way to being an urban farmer, having hens for eggs, fermenting kobucha and aging cheese in her kitchen (I, too, have “aged” cheese, but it’s mostly sliced American past its due date). I figured this was so she would be ready to become self-sustaining in the event of an apocalyptic collapse of civilization, but she apparently thinks the imminent demise of the ecosystem and the society it supports is hooey.  I figured she’ll be whistling a different tune when she’s fighting a pack of wild dogs for her breakfast, but she remains unperturbed.  I quote:

Animals don’t worry me.  It’s the horsemen that freak me out.  Angry men on
a rampage with an agenda, not good.  Not in the bible.  Not in a bar.  Just
not good. 

Anyway, she’ll be swinging by next weekend, I’ll crack the hive and show her around.  If anyone else is interested, just drop me a line, we’ll make a party.

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Achooo!

My friend Tabasco collared me at Brianna and Fauxfaux’s wedding a couple weekends back and asked if he could have some Hive Mind honey for his allergies.  Turns out, eating local honey, by exposing you to low doses of the various pollens in your area, helps build up your body’s immune system to those allergens.

There’s a whole article about it over at Pioneer Thinking.  Clearly, Tabasco needs it, as can be seen in the photo to the right, in which his allergies have obviously caused his tongue to extrude bizarrely from this mouth.

More incentive to actually extract that honey I’ve got sitting in my basement.

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