YOU’RE SWEET, LIKE A HONEYBEE

Osmia ribifloris bee.jpg

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Bees Collecting Pollen 2004-08-14.jpg

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A CBS NEWS (http://www.cbsnews.com) report (http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/fyi/main500823.shtml)  which is a follow-up on a previous story done on April 23, 2007, on the serious decline in bee populations forbodes for more than just drastic consequences for the agriculture and honeybee industries. Bees are the foremost pollinators of many plants, and if not for them, we would not have many of the foods we have come to know and love:

Almonds

-Blueberries

-Apples

-Watermelon

-Cantaloupes

-Squash

-Cucumber

-Tangelos and tangerines

-Pears

And let’s not forget many people’s favourite foodstuff that is the courtesy and hard work of bees:

HONEY.

Yes, we depend on bees for many of the foods we eat, but, there are questions we humans must ask ourselves as to what is causing so many bees to die. The CBS NEWS report asked these questions:

What is happening to the bees?

In short, a quarter of the country’s 2.4 million bee colonies have been decimated or lost. There are many theories about what’s caused the loss, but there is no definitive answer.

One thing has almost been agreed upon: Scientists are calling this Colony Collapse Disorder. Well, except for those who call it Fall Dwindle Disease (the phenomenon’s former name).

A Congressional Research Service report for members of Congress listed the following possible causes of CCD, as reported by scientists.

  • Parasites, mites, and disease loads in the bees and brood;
  • Known/unknown pathogens
  • Poor nutrition among adult bees
  • Level of stress in adult bees (e.g., transportation and confinement of
    bees, or other environmental or biological stressors)
  • Chemical residue/contamination in the wax, food stores and/or bees
  • Lack of genetic diversity and lineage of bees
  • A combination of several factors.
  • What are some of the myths about CCD?

    The disappearance of so many bees so quickly has been blamed on everything from a rapture (the bees have been called to heaven, some say) to shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field.

    Or maybe it is cell phones. One German study examining a certain type of cell phone and bees’ honing systems got misinterpreted and joked about on the Internet and talk shows and soon was being cited as evidence that mobile phones were killing bees, The Associated Press reported.

    Could this affect how we eat?

    In some states, apiarists are already being called on to explain why their honey supplies are dwindling. One New Hampshire beekeeper told the Boston Globe: “I have to consistently explain to people about why there isn’t enough honey.”

    But moreover, scientists and farmers are concerned about the fruits, vegetables and nuts that grow after being pollinated by the country’s hived and feral honeybees.

    According to a study funded by the National Honey Board, about 1/3 of Americans’ diet is dependent on bees’ pollination.

    While some crops, like wheat and corn, are wind-pollinated, many flowering crops, like almonds or apples, rely heavily on honeybees. On orchards and berry farms, bees are often trucked in for the express purpose of pollinating the crops.

    Why do we need bees?

    A spoonful of honey might be a sweet treat and is an ingredient in many foods, but the country’s honey supply is not beekeepers’ or agrarians’ main concern over the massive honeybee loss.

    Entomology professor May Berenbaum said in an interview for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that “what makes the situation particularly critical is the fact that the demand for pollination services — not honey, per se, but pollination services — is exploding.”

    The dip in pollination could have an economic impact down the road: An estimated $14 billion in U.S. crops in the are dependent on bee pollination.”

    **********************************************************************

    So, bees, like so many insects, should not be taken for granted.  There is more that would be lost if the bee population is decimated so much that it may never recover; we stand to lose many beautiful plants that are pollinated by bees.

    When I see bees buzzing about, going about their day collecting nectar, I cannot help but think of black women:  always busy, working, looking after many people [parents, children, husbands]; I think of how people [and the ubiquitous bears] who raid the hives of bees for their hard-earned honey; I think of the bees that I have seen fly back and forth, to and fro to their hives bringing the precious nectar back, these worker bees, ALL of whom are ALL FEMALE, who keep the hive abuzz with the activity of nothing lost in their energetic quest to feed themselves, and the queen.

    And then I think of all the hard work that black women do much of it taken from us during slavery, and during segregation, and I remember how black women have not stopped stepping up to the plate of responsibility, earnestness, thrift, industriousness, and that stick-to-it-ness.

    I think of the many slaps we black women have faced in this country, and have overcome, and the many slights and insults hurled our way, in the past, and even in the present, and  I am so proud that we keep on keeping on——never missing a beat, marching to our own drum—-that nothing will beat us down, nothing will turn us around.

    Yes, there is much that has sought to undermine and annihilate black women; some of us have been brought low by so many misfortunes, so many moments of racism and sexism. But, there are still so many of us who stop, turn around, walk back, and reach down to bring back up those of our sisters who have fallen in their walk in this life.

    We black women know that many times it is often only we who speak up for each other, it is often we who give each other the much needed pat on the back, it is often we who stand in solidarity with our beautiful black sisters that much of the world loves to write off.

    Like the busy, hard-working bee, we have been there for each other in so many ways, through the horrors of slavery, the atrocities of Jim Crow segregation, through the present world we live in today which seeks to insult and defame black women on every level of life.

    But, like the lovely bee, we keep on, building, striving, working, succeeding, achieving, and prevailing.

    Strong, but sweet.

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