Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW

Sacred Honey Bee Evening video clip, CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW
Click on this photo for a video of "Evening in Honor of the Sacred Honey Bee". Photo by Daniel Bahmani

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Honey Bee Colonies are ok again. Joy! (a commentary ---decide for yourself whether or not you comment at the end)

Jon Carroll, "Datebook" SF Chronicle, Friday April 15, 2011

I am so stoked about the honeybees making a comeback. I had thought - a lot of people had thought - that the scourge of colony collapse was so powerful and mysterious that it might never be solved. And indeed I was right - as far as I can tell, science did little to reverse the problem. Oh, there are theories, but it seems to me that the situation just reversed itself, at least for this year.

When I first read an article in the New Yorker about colony collapse, it seemed like the end of the world. Without bees, agriculture suffers, plants fail to thrive, farmers go out of business. And the nature of colony collapse - entire little bee cities just completely failing - made it sound like something from Chapter 4 of an apocalyptic science fiction novel.

Only the benign aliens can save us now, I thought. Of course, in today's doomsday culture, speculative fiction produces very few benign aliens. Today's aliens only hasten the destruction that we are already bringing on ourselves. All of this is scary, but we live in scary times. If we could reduce the fear level just a few notches, people might begin to make more rational decisions.

Unfortunately, it is in the interests of both politicians and the media to keep the fear dial ratcheted up to 11. Which leaves those of us prone to worry in a state of agitation. Breathe, now; the bee colonies are on the upswing. Humans may have developed a workaround.

It wasn't until I read the item in Nancy Friedman's fine blog, Fritinancy (full disclosure: Nancy is a friend), that I realized there was a name for what I am suffering from: declinism, "the belief that something, particularly a country or a political or economic system, is undergoing a significant and possibly irreversible decline."

Fritinancy continues:

"According to Paul McFedries of Word Spy [a website], 'declinism' was coined in 1988 by the American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington for an essay in Foreign Affairs. Huntington wrote:

" 'In 1988 the United States reached the zenith of its fifth wave of declinism since the 1950s. The roots of this phenomenon lie in the political economy literature of the early 1980s that analyzed the fading American economic hegemony and attempted to identify the consequences of its disappearance.'

"McFedries calls declinism 'the "apocalypse soon" school of international relations'; its opposite is 'triumphalism,' coined in 1964. 'Declinism' appears to be a back-formation from the much earlier 'declinist.' An 1831 citation for 'declinist' appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, which (says McFedries) 'mentions the "doctrine of the decline of science" and labels one of its proponents as "the leader of the Declinists." ' "

Now, it makes me very happy that in 1831 there was a movement that believed that science was dying. Subsequent events proved that science was, uh, so very not dead. So the declinists were wrong. I take that clouded crystal ball as evidence that our own predictive mechanisms may be equally murky. Maybe ubiquitous texting does not represent the end times. Just a thought.

Kelly Zito of this very newspaper quoted Frank Pendell, president of the California State Beekeepers Association, as saying: "We're learning new ways to deal with (colony collapse disorder), so the numbers are getting better. It's just like hitting your finger over and over with a hammer. You learn to stop doing it."

And yet, as I understand it, it is unclear what caused the reversal. Maybe it was just this year's heavy rains; maybe it was intervention by apiarists to divide the colonies more frequently and create more little bee societies. Since the cause is not known, it is fruitless to speculate on the results, given just one data point. There are cycles in things, as we know, and a lot of short-term fluctuations are just part of the great wheel of life.

In the longer term, of course, things progress or regress depending on where you're standing. The Roman Empire is no more. Our problems with bubonic plague are just not as serious as they used to be. Once we hadn't been to the moon; now we have. (An interesting question, he said parenthetically, is what good the moon landings did in the larger scheme. Were they dead ends or new beginnings? This is not a decision we can make right now, although we can and do have rhetoric.)

So when I think about politics, when I think about Obama and the congressional Republicans and the Tea Partiers and corrupt Democrats feeding off the kleptocracy, I try to think about the bees. Things come in cycles, and we have little control over them. Do good work and wait it out, is my advice. I am a declinist no more.

Look to the honeybee, my child, for it shall teach you the meaning of life, as well as what goes well with toast.

Shut up your doors, my lord; 'tis a wild night. My Regan counsels well; come out o' the

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Commentary posted by Urania
No, no, no! I respectfully disagree with the conclusion and tone of this commentary on the bees. Things do come in cycles --yes--but to state "we have little control over them" deflects away from the possibility we have as humans to make responsible and thoughtful decisions about how we treat animals (bugs,bees and all life on the planet); the bees NEED us as advocates. Instead, we have increasingly treated the bees as a commodity that can be manipulated for our use, while ignoring their basic biological needs. Go see the new beautiful and informative film "Queen of the Sun", playing now in theaters. Please inform yourself more thoroughly about this complex situation. It is NOT that this is just another cycle, or if it is, it could be the end cycle (not to be a fear monger, but read the statistics). I have a blog where I post all the latest information on the state of the bees (without commentary for the most part--this time excepted: I do not consider myself a declinist. To state 'do good work' is well and good. But to blithely believe that the bees are in a fine state of health again, just because of one article, is hardly accurate. Read the statistics, read "Toward Saving the Honey Bee" by Gunther Hauk. Or "A Spring without Bees" by Schacker, or "Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis" by Rowan Jacobson. These are not just alarmists foretelling the end of the world, they are authors who have done their research, are laying out the facts, and suggesting ways in which we CAN have control over our actions --which may be of great benefit to the bees, and to the overall state of our earth and world.

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