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04/26/07
Bees, Please
Filed under: general
Posted by: The Cyclofiend @ 11:14 am

Any day that starts off at 8 am in the dentist’s chair has got to end up better than it started. As mentioned a few days ago, I had to make a date with my mouth doc yesterday to fix a molar, and the first available time slot was two hours in front of a scheduled cleaning. So, I wobbled out of there at around 11:30 or so, drooling moderately from the anesthetic.

“If I’d known I was gonna live this long, I’d've taken better care of my teeth…”

My dentist, it should be known, is good, gives painless injections, keeps up to date on current techniques and surfs.  Not necessarily in that order, of course, and no one of them would be a specific deal breaker, but the combination of those four traits eases the pain of the copay, not to mention giving me some measure of confidence for avoiding the teeth-in-a-glass endgame that my grandfather had to deal with.

I’d napped briefly upon a return home, until the dog-nose-nudging woke me up.  By that point, the numbness had dissipated, and I whimpered around the kitchen wondering just who had socked me in the jaw. My surfin’ dentist had been working on the far back molar, and there were times when I could sense (but not feel) that he had to kinda crank on things a bit. During the work, I did have the distinct feeling that my nose had relocated onto my cheekbone. So, I moaned and avoided phone calls, and  read the online NYTimes article about disappearing bees while I tried to shake off the effects of a midday nap.

There’s been some sort of bee rapture, according to one theory.  (And my stating of the most inane theory first is an homage to network news of our time).  More than 25% of the bees in the US have gone thorax up. There’s something oddly X-File-ish about this whole thing, and I think I worry more about the effects of this than I do about most of the stories in the news. A couple of points that got my attention - There has been a decline in the bee population since the 1940’s, despite the increase in crops, and a National Academy of Sciences study has pointed out there is too much emphasis upon bees as pollinators in the US.  So we depend heavily upon the little sting-tailed buzzers, and there are fewer of them to do more work.  Sounds like retail staffing.

I can’t help but wonder if, much like the results of human directed animal breeding, we’ve made the genetic diversity too narrow, so when something microscopic and tenacious bites into the system, all the dollys (as in the xeroxed sheep) fold up their hands in unison and sit back from the table.

On the other hand, we haven’t all joined hands and walked steadily across the continent, so maybe these bees have simply wised up and flown off to greener pastures, far from the reach of beekeepers who want to lock ‘em into 18 wheelers and keep ‘em jacked up on bee-specific gonzo juice. If they’ve flown the coop, more power to ‘em.

The buds have started coming out in earnest on the little lemon tree we have out back, and as the dogs padded around, sniffed and did their business this morning, I counted 16 bees hovering around the sweet white blossoms.  My jaw hurt a lot less (though there’s a rough bit on the temporary cap which is sanding down a spot on the side of my tongue) and the sun felt warm for the first time in the past week. A couple bees rose up and wobbled away, while a few more came in from nowhere and took over the work. It was  a hopeful sight.

2 Responses to “Bees, Please”

  1. scott Says:
    Hi–interesting article; seems like a real mystery. Probably just makes things more difficult that the honeybees themselve aren’t native (which I don’t think they mention in the article). I’d be interested to hear if native bees are having similar problems.
  2. The Cyclofiend Says:
    Hey Scott - Didn’t realize that honeybees were (like so many species) actually introduced. Hadn’t seen any info about other bees.