blue-flag-thumb2_50x50Our side's flag is a thin, airlight blue, drifting almost unseen against the sky. Our military march is a meadowlark's song among the dandelions. --Ken Kesey, The Real War
 

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To Bee or Not Have Bees | Mickey Z.

Photo credit: Mickey Z.Photo credit: Mickey Z.

Mickey Z. -- World News Trust

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

- Albert Einstein

Did you know that when “scout” bees discover food, they return to the hive and communicate to their comrades on a highly sophisticated level? Here’s what happens next:

Many foragers leave the hive and fly directly to the food. The remarkable thing about this is that the foragers do not follow the scouts back (the scouts may remain in the hive for hours). So the scout bees have communicated to the foragers the necessary information for them to find the food on their own. It turns out that the scouts can convey to the foragers information about the odor of the food along with its direction and distance from the hive.

Why am I telling you this? Well, perhaps if we combine the above info with the reality that bees pollinate one-third of the food we eat, we could more easily begin creating a compassionate -- and self-preserving -- shift in perception, re: bees and all insects.

Some of the Many Ways to Perceive a Bee:

Annoyance
While the sound of a buzzing bee can send many humans into a sting-fear frenzy, I'd like to suggest a far more urgent target for our wariness: corporations.

Smart and Sensitive
I know what some of you are thinking: They're just bees. Lighten up. It just so happens that bees are extremely intelligent and studies have demonstrated that they feel pain. (Plus, the standard retort of "they're only insects" ignores the feelings that lead some people to adopt a compassionate vegan lifestyle in the first place.)

Exploited
As detailed by PETA, "Like other factory-farmed animals, honeybees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation ... Profiting from honey requires the manipulation and exploitation of the insects' desire to live and protect their hive." To which, adds Jo Stepaniak: "Even the most careful keeper cannot help but squash or otherwise kill many of the bees in the process. During unproductive months, some beekeepers may starve their bees to death or burn the hive to avoid complex maintenance."

Disappearing
I have three words for you: Colony Collapse Disorder. As Rowan Jacobsen, author of Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis, explains: "Many people will remember that Rachel Carson predicted a silent spring, but she also warned of a fruitless fall, a time when 'there was no pollination and there would be no fruit.'" That fruitless fall, Jacobsen warns, "has nearly arrived as beekeepers have watched a third of the honey bee population mysteriously die over the past two years."

Invaluable
Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) becomes all the more alarming if we comprehed how a fair portion of our food relies on bees at the "critical early stages of its development." The folks at TreeHugger.com tell us: "The bee losses are especially distressing in light of a study … that concluded that pollinators such as bees, birds and bats affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, increasing the output of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide."

Translation: As bees decline, so does food production and well… you can figure out the rest.

We humans sure love to see ourselves as above or perhaps not even connected to the "animal" kingdom. But maybe if we learn about the species we underestimate, we can begin adjusting our perceptions and behavior towards a far more earth-friendly mode.

#shifthappens

Note: To continue conversations like this, come see Mickey Z. in person on Jan. 12 in NYC for Occupy the Climate: Hurricane Sandy, Eco-Activism, & the Vegan Option.

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Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.

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