Remember the popular kid’s show Romper Room, which aired from 1953 to 1994? I do. The adults running around in bee suits asking the children, “Are you a Do-Bee or a Don’t-Bee?”
This weekly kid’s show taught the benefits of being good, kind and respectful. The show itself was a ‘beehive of activity’ with children ranging from five years of age and under. The simpler times.
There are over 7 species of honey bees, with 44 subspecies. Bees have been around for over 65 million years. The question is: Will they ‘bee’ here for another decade—a century? Time will tell.
Today, it certainly seems that ‘Mr. Don’t-Bee’ has taken over the effervescently good Miss ‘Do-Bee’ in the series thanks to the recent pandemic of ‘death by pesticides’ – the most recent being Neonicotinoids.
The pesticide is chemically similar to nicotine, coming into being in the 1980’s by the Shell corporation and later in the 1990’s by Bayer. Neonicotinoids are said to be the “first new class of insecticides to be developed in the last 50 years” and is the most widely used insecticide in the world. Due to the use of this toxic product, what is known as ‘honey bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) is occurring. Bees aren’t the only victims of this particular chemical. Over 80 percent of our seeds have been contaminated with it since 2008, which, of course affects not only the product grown from these seeds, but it has serious avian (bird) consequences as well when ingested. Under the umbrella of ‘Neonicotinoids’ are eight insecticides: Imidacloprid, Thiamethoxam, Clothiandin, Acetamiprid, Thiacloprid, Dinotefuran, Sulfoxaflor and Nitenpyram. When you break it all down, it’s a frightening scenario. For the honey bee, this toxic chemical is absorbed transdermally, as it is transported through dust, pollen and nectar. In the end, this affects their central nervous system, causing paralysis, disorientation (where the bees lose their way home, essentially), routes to their food source and eventually death. Birds and bees are just a drop in the bucket (or another nail in the environmental coffin), so to speak, with respect to the lethal effects from these chemicals, but that’s of course, another story. So, don’t get me started on the list of other insecticides and environmental contaminants which also impair bee learning and foraging behaviour.
Everybody loves a happy ending. So the next time you consider telling your kids about the birds and the bees, think again. There’s a possibility that our miraculously prolific honey-makers just may end up in the Museum of Natural History, glorified under glass with a simply written epitaph, themselves displayed with a shiny pin through their abdomens. Not a happy thought by any stretch of the imagination.
I’m sure we would rather see those ‘Do-Bees’ doing what they do best – flitting from flower to flower, collecting, building their communities, living healthy, productive lives.
As Winnie the Pooh always said, “The only reason for being a bee is to make honey. And the only reason for making honey is so I can eat it…..oh bother:….but bother we will – to put an end to these toxically lethal substances that are putting our bees, if not our planet, at risk of extinction.
“To bee or not to bee, that is the question”………