Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Disappearance of the Bees

We've had beautiful weather (in DC area) the past 4 days, so I've gotten out in it. For three days I didn't see a single bee or butterfly or moth (late April!). Maybe it's partly the unseasonable cold April in recent weeks, but having read various Internet articles about the vanishing of honey bees (estimates running from 50% to far more of the adult bees leaving their hives and not returning, their fates unknown), I lay in bed last night creating lots of bees -- lots of insects, but especially bees, visualizing them bumbling about blossoms, crowding into their hives ("do a little dance -- get down tonight!"), boiling out from a hole in the rocks, swarming, darting about -- generating a lot of affinity for them, a space for them. I created butterflies, too (some of them also pollinate our plants), starting with the "easy" ones, the white cabbage butterflies (or are they moths?), with one or two viceroys and monarchs.

So while jogging today (for an hour, all of it in a suburbia filled with blossoming trees) I saw ONE (count it, one!) bee and, not far away, one modest white butterfly. Well, it's a start.

The articles on the bees said that they're required for about 70% of our fruit/vegetable diet. I don't recall them mentioning whether this disappearance of bees is just in the U.S. or in other nations as well. (Of course, B's have been disappearing in colleges gradually for decades as the Self-Esteem doctrines increasingly dictate that everyone must receive an A.)

I think we're going to have to put out a lot of love for bees, all of us -- you've been stung? Get over it! We need these guys. And they're wonderful creatures: They don't eat other creatures. They trade pollination service with flowers for the stuff of honey, which they also share with us. Free trade exemplars. (I suppose you could call them pimps for flowers. I prefer to think of them as the third sex of flowers.)

I suppose they aren't popular with ardent Women's Libbers. All the work of the hive is done by sterile females (the worker bees). The males (drones) have as their fulltime occupation keeping the queen pregnant. The queen has as her fulltime occupation (after she's fought to the death with other potential queens to be THE queen) getting laid and laying eggs. Hardly a lesson in sexual equality.

Anyway, even if you don't care to consume honey, if you like flowers and vegetables, you should put out a postulate for the return of our honeybees. (Note: Besides the one bee I saw today, I've also seen a couple bumblebees in the last two weeks. The one today was the first regular honeybee I've seen.)

Meanwhile, I've decided to make some predictions about this honeybee shortage and how it will be "handled" (if we fail to postulate them back into our lives):

Articles about the shortage of honey bees will creep slowly into the back pages of newspapers, but won't make it to the front pages until accompanied by news of "studies" by prestigious universities that trace the problem to a virus. The studies will be funded by companies like Monsanto (manufacturers of insecticides and genetically modified crops) or by their front groups (foundations, etc.). Probably the virus will be something that's been around for a long time, and will be said to be a new variant. The evidence won't be stunning, but a big deal will be made of it, and some new Monsanto of pharmaceutical product will be offered as a solution. The possibility that insecticides or GM plants may have something to do with it will not be mentioned or, when brought up, be dismissed as improbable. No one will ask whether such factors might have lowered the immune systems of bees and made them more susceptible to viruses or why no such virus had wiped out our bees before.

The government will be asked to fund a handling. Various handlings will be suggested. To make up for the honey shortage, the people who produce Splenda, Equal and other artificial sweeteners will come up with artificial honey, golden yellow, better than bee honey, vitamin fortified NutraSweet syrup, etc. (Maybe the sugar people will do the same -- if the sugar beets and sugar cane can do without bee pollination.)

Perhaps we'll open the borders wide for Mexican laborers, millions of them, who will receive less-than-minimum wages to swarm through our fields with Q-Tips, cross pollinating plants by hand. (That could be done, right?)

Monsanto will produce genetically modified bees that can resist the virus (but whose honey will cause liver disease and whose swarms will tend, on occasion, to turn into killer bees for reasons unfathomable). Or perhaps Monsanto will produce all sorts of food-crop seeds genetically altered (by adding genetic material from teen-aged boys) so that their flowers will self-pollinate. We'll be eating nothing but "West Virginian" fruits and vegetables. (No insects? Try incest! Same letters.)

Or perhaps killer bees will move up from South America to fill the vacated niche in our warming ecology, and Lilly will produce a drugged gas for rendering them less hostile (except when it sends them on savage killing sprees), while tincturing their honey (they do make honey, don't they?) with the same chemical, which will give the honey a calming effect on humans (except when it sends them on savage killing sprees).

Or perhaps in some areas most food crops will become rare, and we'll see a reversal of the vegetarian move to replace steak with eggplant and soy substitutes. Vegetable lovers will be offered, instead, brocolli and beans made from cow fat and various chemicals. Etc. (But what will cows eat?)

Essay by Dean Blehert

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Are you there?

If I dial the right
number and you're home, you'll answer.
Why else have a phone?

So I keep writing, thinking,
why else have a language.