Monday, August 20, 2007

The Buzz at New Earth Farm

A week ago Farmer John took a few of us over to look at the beehives. He told us fascinating things regarding bee behavior (bee-havior?). Apparently, if the hive gets too crowded the worker bees (females) will grab up a few drones (males), take them to the entrance of the hive, pull off their wings and kick them to the curb--(metaphorically speaking - I don't believe bees have the ability to kick, although I vaguely remember an old saying involving 'bees knees'). In addition, when mating time comes around the queen flies out of the hive and heads straight up towards the sun. The drones follow her racing to be one of the few to successfully mate with her. The irony being that those who do mate then fall tragically to the ground...dead (sorry fellas). The bees can even sense when the queen is sick and will begin to raise another queen to take her place.

This amazing behavior inspires one to research more about the world of the apiary and also brings to mind Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). I am sure most of the people reading this post have heard about this, but for those who haven't, CCD is the recent discovery that bees are leaving the hive and not returning. They are not turning up dead in hives or near them, they are just disappearing all together. There are many theories about the cause (increased cell phone signals, GMO's and others) and anyone wanting to learn more can research it on the web.

The issue, though, deserves to be more widely noted in mainstream media. If bees go, not only will we lose a fascinating part of nature, but the key to our food pollination as well. There is a quote attributed to Einstein: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live." The validity of this statement could be debated, but is a world without pollinators really a world be want to live in?

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