Colony Collapse Disorder Explained: Bees Just Saying, "#?!$ It."

Posted on by Benjamin Chabot-Hanowell (Brash Equilibrium)
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Entomologist E.V. Eerkh, Professor of Biology at Cornell in Ithaca, NY, walks fearlessly up to the bee hive. He measures it, peers inside, sighs, and moves on to the next hive he's marked with a bright orange flag just ten yards away. With six graduate students, he's tasked with estimating the nation's population of honey bees, and things aren't looking good.

"The number of colonies surviving the winter has fallen precipitously in recent years," he says. "It's just a shame."

This is not E.V. Eerkh.
My cellphone battery died before I could take any pictures of Dr. Eerkh.
Here's a
photo of a beekeeper. Pretend it's him.

The phenomenon, called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), has proven a mystery to scientists across the globe. Bee colonies are disappearing and, until now, no one knew why. CCD is especially disconcerting when you consider the totally unsubstantiated claim that Albert Einstein is rumored to have made: "If the bee disappears from the surface of the Earth, man would have no more than four years to live."

Einstein drawing a bee
Einstein: Everything he said is true.

Perhaps Einstein's prediction overstates the case. Nonetheless, The Telegraph recently reported that the honey bee collapse could threaten food security for two reasons. First, farmers depend on bees to pollinate many important fruit and nut plants. Second, security guard duty for major agri-businesses has been outsourced to honey bees since 2002, when former President George W. Bush signed the controversial Food Security Through Painful Bee Stings Act, drafted by a bipartisan committee.

Now there is a chance to prevent this looming environmental disaster / security gap. Eerkh claimed over lunch, hardly able to contain his excitement, "Now we know why the bees are disappearing."

Eerkh made the discovery in December when he was taking a walk near his office in Ithaca. He departed from his usual path and soon stumbled across what may be the greatest discovery in modern apiology.

"They were lying around just...everywhere. I mean they were everywhere, billions of them," Eerkh continued, "Just watching TV, listening to white noise on teensy weensy little radios. I mean, they weren't doing a damn thing. It was sad. They just looked sad. Some of them were just staring at this wall. I don't think any of them had showered in weeks. I think, for whatever reason, they're just saying, '#?!$ it,' you know. Hell, I can't blame them."

Apparently, honey bees are losing their motivation to work, opting instead to lie around and not do much. Curious, I traveled to a field near my own home in West Seattle, WA. It was not long before I found them. The dull hum of YouTube videos, unbroken by laughter or commentary, and millions of empty (and tiny) cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon gave them away. Most of them were unresponsive, but I finally managed to goad one into an interview. She was lounging on a tiny couch, scrolling listlessly through the latest posts on Jezebel, and had this to say.

"I don't know. Just one day I looked around and started thinking about things. Every day, I got up, dusted off my wings and swarmed out of the hive to gather pollen, and for what? Some fat bitch who gets to have all the children because she was fed the royal jelly? I haven't clocked in since."

She concluded the interview with what may replace "bzzzzz," as the ranking onomatopoeia for bees: "#?!$ it."

Dr. Eerkh looks at the discovery as offering hope: "Now we know what the issue is, we can tackle it."

The key, Eerkh argues, is in getting the bees motivated again. He recommends providing them with affordable health care plans, more competitive pay, and an updated lounge in the hive. The main way we can help, Eerkh went on, is by treating the bees with more respect.

"When you're on a picnic and you see a bee, what do you do? You run away. That's not helping. I mean, just tell a bee 'thank you' now and then. That might bee all it takes. Get it? Bee all it takes! You gotta have a sense of humor in this profession."

Before, it was thought that a Fort Worth, TX, banker was responsible for the disappearance. That dude was killing bees in droves and clearly is a sick bastard, but Eerkh used a mathematical model to prove that one man, no matter how disturbed or unlucky, couldn't possibly be responsible for the onslaught. Plus, the question remained where the man could be burying all the bees...

What do you make of the worldwide disappearance of honey bee colonies?

2798 views & 19 votes

Debate It! 10

As I read this there were two what appeared to be bees head banging themselves on the screen of my open window next to my laptop. I think they wanted to sign onto Facebook.

Posted By The Other Thing,

Well, it might just be a bad sign rather than the Apocalypse.

Posted By lockheed40,

Lockheed, how dare you question my hyperbole

Posted By Brash Equilibrium,

Im sad though. I consider this my second best comedic writing so far, but doubt it will get widely disseminated. Except among jaded apiologists.

Posted By Brash Equilibrium,

What if the Apocalypse was just every creature on the planet deciding to say "fuck it" all at once? I found my smart phone in the little fences in area next to the garage where the raccoons hang out. they were texting votes to American Idol all night.

Posted By Actionamy,

Which reminds me that two raccoons tried to throw themselves beneath the wheels of my brother's jeep the other night.

Posted By Brash Equilibrium,

I just noticed Rebecca's "bee all it takes" edit! CLASSIC, Rebecca!

Posted By Brash Equilibrium,

@Brash I don't always add content when I edit, but when I do, it's Dos Equis. Or something. I think I messed that up.

Posted By Rebecca,

Which reminds me that people erroneously believe I am less interesting than this man:


Posted By Brash Equilibrium,



Posted By Brash Equilibrium,

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