Symbiotic Bee

From the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to every state or family dinner, in any country you can think of, food is front and centre. It's at the heart and soul of us all. There is nothing more personal. Not relationships, or careers, or even sex. In exceedingly unique ways, food governs everything we do and everything we think. Honeybees pollinate 90% of the food crops on Earth. That places them as an integral player in the ongoing saga of human development.

What Honeybees Are Telling Us

It’s not the strongest of us that survive. It’s the one that’s willing to evolve and adapt.
Charles Darwin, Naturalist, 1809-1885

I have a fascination with the work of cartoonist Gary Larsen. I probably relate to his humor because as a kid, I believed that all beings -- from whales to guppies, worms or wolves, even the birds and the bees -- at the end of their ‘working’ day would swim, crawl, run or fly home. Once there, they would communicate with their partners, offspring, even neighbours, living much like humans experiencing the good and the bad of it all.

Honeybees dead in Elmwood, Ontario

Shortly after 50,000 bees and other pollinators were found dead in an Oregon parking lot, 37 millions honeybees were found dead in Elmwood, Ontario. Dave Schuit, who runs a honey operation in Elmwood lost 600 hives and he's pointing to the class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids, which are manufactured by Bayer CropScience Inc as the culprit.

Pollinator Die-off In Oregon

Tens of thousands of dead bumblebees, honeybees and ladybugs blanketed a shopping plaza's parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Its estimated 25,000 dead bumblebees and 150 colonies were lost. Rich Hatfield, a conservation biologist with the non-profit Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation said "To our knowledge this is one of the largest documented bumblebee deaths in the Western U.S. It was heartbreaking to watch."

To Ban or Not To Ban

There's a war about to take place. The honeybees are taking on industrial farming and the battle field is looking ugly.

Between April and June 2012, Health Canada's Pest Management Regulatory Agency received "an unusually high number of incident reports of bee losses" from across southern Ontario. The agency said the reports involved 40 beekeepers and more than 200 bee yards. Residues of nitro-guanidine neonicotinoid insecticides used to treat corn seed were detected in approximately 70 per cent the dead bee samples analyzed by the agency.

High Fructose Corn Syrup and Colony Collapse Disorder

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found a possible link between the practice of feeding commercial honeybees high-fructose corn syrup and the collapse of honeybee colonies around the world. The study was published by a team of entomologists at the University of Illinois.The team outlines their research and findings in a paper they've had published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Intricate World of Pollination

Louie Schwartzberg's film “Wings of Life,” was inspired by the vanishing of one of Nature’s primary pollinators, the honeybee. This award-winning cinematographer captures breathtaking images that celebrate life, interdependency, universal rhythms and sheer beauty.

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Humanity's Garden

One hundred million years ago, during what geologists call the Cretaceous period, the face of our planet was reshaping itself, yet again. The supercontinent Pangaea had broken up into the land formations we are familiar with today. But it would take another 40 million years for the continents to make the journey to where they are currently anchored.

The land mass we now call South America was an island, slowly drifting westward. Africa was in pieces. India and Madagascar were island neighbours while much of Europe was still a series of small islands. Down under, Australia’s land mass was attached to Antarctica. And while the southern polar cap had just about settled into its current position, the temperature was a balmy 10◦C/50◦F, instead of the coldest spot on Earth.

A Taste of Honey

Honeybees have been revered by humans throughout time. A 15,000 year old rock painting in a cave in Valencia, Spain tells the story of a hunter collecting honey from a wild nest.

As far back as 7000 BC, societies celebrated by drinking mead fermented from honey. The ancient beverage was consumed during the month-long celebrations following weddings -- the honey moon. Prenuptial agreements required bridegrooms to supply their bride with honey throughout their marriage. Egyptians used honey 4,000 years ago to promote longevity in the afterlife by wrapping their dead in it.

The Altruistic Gene

The mark of a sophisticated society is one which encourages natural evolution. It encompasses the ability to communicate effectively with all who share the same environment while synchronizing behaviour to enable a safe and productive atmosphere in which the essentials of life – food, shelter and the ability to procreate - are all assured. Some social species like Homo sapiens do, at times, exhibit signs of such civility.

The Domino Effect

Today half of the world's population of honeybees have disappeared. Not only are the honeybees vanishing, but the entire interdependent chain that links animal to plant life is being disrupted. As honeybees disappear, so do many naturally grown fruits and vegetables. A sad day indeed for humans. But aside from the food they pollinate, they are also integral to the reproduction of many plants and flowers that benefit other species.