A “Fictional” Last Resort
“It is hereby ordered that all movement of Apis Mellifera (honey bees) and any used beekeeping equipment within the entirety of the United States of America be stopped immediately. There shall be NO movement of honey bees between and/or within any state. In addition, ALL importation and exportation from/to foreign countries of said honey bees be strictly prohibited until further notice. All states, and jurisdictions within States, will cease any said movement under penalty of law. A National quarantine mandate is hereby enforced and will be administered without regard to any stated purposes concerning the movement of Apis Mellifera or any and all subspecies and related used equipment. Fines and penalties will range from confiscation of all bees and equipment to fines of $25,000 and imprisonment of up to 10 years for the first offense.” U.S.Department of Agriculture. Order No. 666
Got your attention? What if you woke up to this headline and story in all newspaper, TV and radio communications? What would be the first thing on your mind? Possibly, some terrible bee disease? Some insect pandemic that is out of control? What would happen to the beekeeping industry? To beekeepers everywhere? To the almond crop in California, the national apple crop and many other crops that depend on the movement of pollinators from state to state? Agriculture would suffer a death blow that would make recovery all but impossible. The human race, as foretold by Albert Einstein, would lapse into starvation to say the least. But wait! Is this just some fictional story? Maybe not, if you stop and think about where we have gotten to over the past few decades. We’ve imported parasites, poured chemicals into our hives, allowed the gene pool to dwindle and after all this we still move bees all around the country to “spread the wealth” of disease and parasites to pollinate crops. Will there come a day when the headlines will read “STOP ALL MOVEMENT OF BEES” in a veiled attempt at one last desperate move to save what bees are left? Is that thought really so farfetched? Is it even possible to get to the point of quarantine? Bees have been around for over 100 million years and within a matter of a few decades we are on the precipice of reality with crushing our food chain. You say “we’ll just breed bees that can hygienically remove the mites and beetles.” That genie is already out of the bottle. It’s the viruses that mites carry that kill the bees. Viruses that morph into new ones FAR faster than we can develop hygienically sensitive bees. Have we gotten to the “too late point” already? When I see a dead-out or hear the stories of 30 to 60 percent winter kills I get that sinking feeling that something is terribly wrong. Have you read about all of the commercial beekeeping operations that have folded? The recent, pathetic interviews of commercial beekeepers tell a sad story of defeat. Defeat by some invisible thing called CCD. A mysterious villain that comes to vanquish our bees. It says “catch me if you can” but wears many disguises to cloak itself invisible. So the next time you see a tractor trailer on the freeway loaded with hundreds of beehives and all of the nefarious collection of disease it carries, take a picture for your grandchildren. You’ll be better able to explain to them what it used to look like, back when. A very unpopular thought, indeed. Pesticides, sometimes. I’ve met the enemy and I think it may be us.