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What happen to the bee apocalypse?

Posts: 55
Location: Valley City, ND.
urban solar greening the desert
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So I added a lengthy reply to my son's post on Wastebook about how it was lowly bee keepers that solved the bee Apocalypse we were hearing so much much about.  

I worked with a bee keeper to record his shows back when I was sick in bed with a long running illness.

He essentially knew exactly what was wrong and claimed that the "bee apocalypse" was "Bee S."

Now let’s think about what he said for a second. I mean, he's really ancient, like 80 plus and been doing this since he was 13 and made a good living out of it, so mayBEE he knows what he is talking about... Nahhhhh, we need more government and private funding to develop a miracle drug for our bees! And even more to make a new generation of genetically superior Super BEE!"

But here's what the old bee keeper said.

"We have a perfect convergence in the bee market of really big companies pedaling all sorts of things from super bees, to chemicals that keep them "healthy" to modern transportation methods that are stressing bee colonies to the max. And it's interesting to note that in all the doom and gloom, nobody EVER did much to monitor wild bee populations. It seems some colonies of wild bees were unaffected... why was that? Nobody ever bothered to ask.

1st Problem- "Building the 'Panzer Bee.'"

Big farm about 20 years ago thought that pollination was their next big market. "We can rebuild them, make them faster, stronger, better." (Cue 6-Million Dollar Man" music here. Those of you that don't know who or what a 6 Million Dollar Man is, refer to Robot Chickens, "6-Million Peso Man" parody and then apply a US style budget here- or Google it NOOB.)

They thought that bigger bees, with larger stomachs and heavier wings were the bomb. Trouble is, a bigger bee spends a few extra days "in the womb" so to speak. "So what! In its lifetime it will carry bucket loads more than your puny, no account, mutt bee!"

Trouble is, that the mite he spoke of, can double its egg laying capacity when the bee's larval stage is increased. Meaning, you get twice as many of those little buggers to deal with- and that alone can overwhelm a hive.

"No problem," said big farm. "We can develop a chemical to kill them little buggers in the hive... except that any honey exposed to the chemical is toxic and can't be consumed by humans... Well we will just cut the keeper a check for his loss, no problem."

Problem solved with the Bee Panzer model? Not yet. See the second problem with Panzer Bees next.

2nd Problem- "Those Dam Big Mouthed BEES!"

Seems our wonder bee has a new problem- her big mouth. (Insert tactless female stereotype joke here.) You see our knew Panzer Bee has a huge beak to suck up more nectar faster... But that also means that she can suck up a brand new parasite that mutt bees are immune too... Seems there is a parasite that only attacks larger insects with larger proboscis, (yes Nathan, I know what the word means, lol,) that the Panzer Bee has no defense against... Why? Because the parasite can't fit in the mouth or "proboscis" of the mutt bee... Her schnoz is just too small for it to fit. Therefore no defense is needed. Big farm said, "Hmmmmmmm... We can develop a chemical for that too!"

Problem(s) now solved with the Panzer Bee? Nope, read on.

3rd Problem- Yet More Genetic Tinkering...

So while the chemical divisions were busy finding chemicals to kill off the parasites, the genetic boys and girls had their own ideas. "Let make the King Tiger Panzer Bee that won't need any chemicals! Will give it a super duper desire to stay clean! It will take the equivalent of 12 hot showers a day! And if it does need chemicals, it will be resistant to them all!"

Ah, how scientist do abhor a vacuum not filled with money.

They did succeed in making a "King Tiger Panzer Bee" though.  It sits around the hive half the day constantly grooming itself, then spends another quarter day grooming other bees, before going out to get some actual pollination done... Not good for the farmer.... Not good for the keeper either.... Seems he had to have four hives to do the work of one- and he had to actually supply honey from other bees to keep the "King Tiger Bee" going.

Oh, but they did remarkably develop a resistance to the new chemicals in the King Tiger Bee. The bees were so good at resisting the chemical and it was so good at killing the various parasites, that they went ahead full speed, proclaiming the King Tiger Panzer Bee to be the savior of both humanity and beeanity.

Except for one problem.... Read on about the negatives of their solution in our next exciting chapter...

4th Problem- Nerve Toxins...

So the latest iteration of the King Tiger Panzer Bee was a super groomer, helping to reduce the problems with what equates to bee lice and fleas. The chem boys were all set with several chemical solutions and the genetic department had developed their King Tiger Panzer Bee in unison to resist the chemical...

But here's the problem.

Mr. Keeper is required to wear a suit that looks like a military grade decontamination suit, complete with full gas mask, gloves and zero exposed skin while spraying this stuff on his bees....

And he can't go near them for 24 hours without the suit...

And the chemical that the bees are resistant too? It has more in common with weapons grade nerve gas than insecticide... Try spreading that over your bread in the morning. MMMM mmmm good!

So needless to say, that scheme fell flat...

Did not take much longer for big farm to start "swatting" at their bee programs. (Insert rim shot here.) And meanwhile, my humble friend is selling bees like mad, making money hand over fist....

And then there were several films that magically escaped the lab showing what happens to the King Tiger Panzer Bee when she gets doused with this stuff... Little things, like, ohhhh, flying upside down... Ramming her bee head into the side of the hive repeatedly while screaming, "Make it STOP!" little things like that... Needless to say, King Tiger Panzer Bees were not exactly selling like hotcakes with honey on them....

But are the problems over yet? Nope, stay tuned for our fifth installment boys and girls!

5th Problem- "The Fuller Brush Bee"

So atop all of this madness, is the fact that bees are shipped all over heck and gone by professional keepers... Why is that an issue? Well let’s see! The answer comes by looking at how it is that bees WERE being used. If ever there was a cruel enslavement of an animal, here it is...

Bees are kept in tight groups. Each hive is a competing group by the way, a gang if you will- and each equipped with a one-use switch blade...

Bees stacked atop each other, one hive on top of the next, tend to experience what's called drift. "Drift?" Yes drift. Sometimes the various scents of home, mom's apple pie cooling on the window seal, homemade spaghetti sauce (otherwise known as Ragu) and all the other fun, ummmm, smells of home, get all mixed up. When hives are close together, bees pop in and out of each other's hives. Not only is it a great way to spread disease from hive to hive, it's an AWESOME way to spark turf wars. Bees in the hive smell the intruder and think a turf war is starting. The hive goes on high alert, guard bees that normally do cleanup work and keep the hive in good repair, are constantly being called to alert status. All that stress has an effect...

And it seems the King Tiger Panzer Bee was given a double dose of "INTRUDER ALERT! INTRUDER ALERT! DE-STROY INTRUDER!" (UNLESS YOU ARE REALLY OLD, YOU WON'T KNOW WHAT THAT REFERS TO.) So the poor thing is freaked out all day, rushing around like mad, trying to find that one bee out of 5,000 that's from another colony. Bees are the ultimate racists- they hate any but their own hive.

So now the hive is nuked with expensive chemicals... They are toxic to humans... They are expensive to buy... The bigger bees help double the load of pestilence with longer rearing cycles... They have a whole new pest they have zero immunity too, because their mouth was too small for it to fit before... The "chemicals" meant to keep them healthy and happy literally drive bees mad... AND they are on alert the whole dang day by "those other bees" drifting in from the colony "upstairs."

But wait, there's more!

5th Problem- "The Fuller Brush Bee" - Part Two

Now atop all that, let's say you are a bee. You have all that stress; all those chemicals and you have serious OCD worse than the King of Denmark from Hamlet trying to wash that dam spot out of his soul...

“And now kiddies, we is going on a magic bus ride!"

Except it's not a magic bus. It's a diesel barfing flatbed trailer with zero suspension. You are loaded upon it by a jerky ass forklift in need of repair that sits on the back of the flatbed giving it more bounce than a basketball at a dunking championship.

It happens at night, when you can't see and then they throw a net over all the hives and start driving... If you have ever seen how most truck drivers drive, you know how rough that journey might “bee.” Meanwhile, bees are swarming all over the inside of the net... Turf war Armageddon breaks out as all the confusing and panic causes stress. It's the bee equivalent of being shipped to a concentration camp in a cattle car...

You drive for days, no food or water and that dam net over you...

And then suddenly, you’re in an almond grove in California! "Wow! It's heaven! We were in hell and now we are in heaven!"

But after a few days, you are back in hell. You are taken to the Carolina's to fertilize yet another crop... Then back on the truck... More nets... More days of diesel barfing truck transport. Then you get there, wherever in the heck "there" is, and some Nazi in a chem suit makes you take a shower that is. "Good for you."

Ok, say add all that up.

Meanwhile, back on the mutt bee farm...

But my friend knows that small bees are better. Nature already developed her own genetic program and came up with the perfect bee. Fast breeder, resistant to parasites, fully immune to others, just a happy little bugger...

And he knows that 25 cents, yes 25 cents of wood bleach is all you need to kill off a heavy parasite load. One quick "poof" of the stuff- and the hive is clean. The bees sort of go, "Huh? What was that cloud? Seems harmless. Well back to making honey and making more bees!"

And that's what he does. Makes bees- does not even collect the honey. The bee making business is just too profitable to bother with honey collections.

And keepers like him have single handily restored bees to their natural place in the order of things and beat big farm at their own game.

Big farm and big science still don't understand what happen and what made it right... Somehow, free people with knowledge and intelligence beat big farm science, chemicals and huge amounts of money from the panic state...

Now don't misunderstand. I like big farm. I like big science. But they need to understand that free thinking, not group thinking, practical knowledge, not college taught knowledge and common sense, not the scientific principles of big business, were what won the day. Turns out they had totally discounted my friend long ago. They would come round his place and try to sell him chemicals and Panzer Bess, and the like- and he would explain why all of that was a bad idea...

He would then show them what actually worked and they finally just left him alone. "Stubborn old fool, he's going down soon anyway."
Posts: 867
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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As far as i know natural bee colonies are also going down, in europe in the last decade alone there are 75% less insects. Despite this politicians are hardly willing to ban neo nicotinoids and glyphosates ,where they didn't hesitate to ban natural remedies because they were not clinically tested.. But the scientists are working on a solution, artificial drone bee swarms. I kid you not.
I hope to get a swarm of wild bees this year for in my top bar hive, because artificial bee swarms will never pollinate nature, just commercial crops, they'll malfunction and drop to the land and their batteries be chopped by robo tractors ploughing the fields to function as fertilizer
master pollinator
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Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
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For those who don't know... This 'wood bleach' is considered an organic treatment for bees. It is Oxalic acid, a component within spinach, and wood sorrel.

Here is a power point presentation from Randy Oliver explaining how it is used. Some of his practices raise my eyebrows, but we must all decide for ourselves what we will do with our own 'livestock'. 'Old Queens' (3-4 years) become less productive, just as do old hens.
Joylynn Hardesty
master pollinator
Posts: 3893
Location: Officially Zone 7b, according to personal obsevations I live in 7a, SW Tennessee
forest garden foraging books food preservation cooking fiber arts bee medical herbs
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Chris Kott wrote:
So if we can stop the introduction of new poisons, the old ones will become useless, or too lethal to use in effective doses, and the environment will recover...

The engineered bigger bee problem is essentially another iteration of the oversized preformed cell issue in manufactured hives, the thought being that if the cells are pre-sized, the larvae will grow to the size of the cell, and the frames will contain more honey and less wax. All of the downsides brought up with the Panzer bees exist for all bees of artificially larger size...



The thing about predetermined cell size seems to have been dis-proven. Bees will build what they want to. They will telescope the cell smaller, or larger as THEY want. Some have posited that smaller cells will mean fewer drones and less mites in the hive. (Drones have larger cells, supporting more mite eggs, than in worker cells.) Small size foundation does not prevent the bees from building the larger cells, ON THAT foundation, that are needed for their drone brood. Bees adjust their hive to their own liking, despite what we do to change it. Whether larger, or smaller...

I have seen some beekeepers who do use the bee behavior of putting drones toward the outside edges of the hive, to provide larger cell size in their honey supers, moving the hatched frames into the supers, to be filled with honey.
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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