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Month: April, 2007

More Bees

by Scott Smith

I was listening to NPR’s The Story this evening simply because I happened to be in my car and they were broadcasting a piece on Colony Collapse. Dick Gordon interviewed professional beekeeper, Jeff Lee (who happened to turn his life long hobby into a profession when he was unable to find work in the pharmaceutical industry) and Dr. Dewey Caron. Dr. Caron addressed some of the same theories that I mentioned in my other post and did some clarifying and dismissing.

He stated that:

-scientists have been unable to make a connection to genetically modified crops.
-bio-terrorism was dismissed
-there is a pesticide (which he didn’t name) that causes short term memory loss in bees at very
low exposures. Dr. Caron said, and I quote, “it makes them stupid.”

Dr. Caron seems to lean toward an environmental contaminate, but doesn’t think that there is a simple answer. He refers to bees as a possible “canary in the mine.”

Jeff Lee had a lot of excellent input as well. For instance, did you know that beekeepers can’t get insurance for their bees? They don’t fall into the crop category and they don’t fall into the livestock category, so when they lose half their hives they’re pretty much screwed. He also has a lot of really good thoughts on what could be causing the Colony Collapse that line up pretty well with what Dr. Caron said.

You can get the podcast and listen to the whole thing, and I recommend it.

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Stuff ’em Full

by Scott Smith

Robinson is taking her mother to Chicago today.

That leaves me in charge, a man with ultimate authority and minions to rule over. First order: Fill their bellies full of ham steak, green beans and mashed potatoes. If that doesn’t make them sleepy, I’m fixing them a snack of butter sticks. That’s right, they’ll each get a stick of butter. That’ll slow them down enough for an early bed-time.

Floating Floor

by Scott Smith

Nanny and Poppa have been installing a floating floor that runs from the family room and kitchen, and into the hallways. It’s not quite done, but the difference is amazing. They decided to lay the boards on a diagonal, which makes the room look bigger.

Poppa was finally released, and I have been doing the cutting. He warned me that I’d have to take over — words no one wants to hear. That said, we are fairly safe from my skills. Nanny draws the line; I follow the line. I am not asked to make decisions.

One thing we could use is a math major who happens to be a carpenter. We are having a difficult time working around the doorways. If Norm was here, he’d have some quick-and-dirty way of handling the zigs and zags.
floor.jpg

Salvation

by Scott Smith

Technology CAN save us!

We need to design tiny robotic bees, which can mimic real insect bees. By doing this bee keepers can help remove killer bee populations from city dwelling where they might attack people. Although some would say this is far-fetched, we are not that far off in understanding the bee population or their queen bee migrations. By developing tiny insect like Queen Bees which the bees will follow we can help divide hives and steer bees into areas where they can help us with our crop yields without killing little kids, pets and even adults.

I have no idea about the respectability of this site, but I went in search of information on anyone who might be looking for artificial means by which to pollinate our food crops. Tiny, pollinating robots! This is the answer. Now we don’t have to give up text messaging and chatting with friends on our cell phones while driving 80 mph down the highway. Techno-stress, here I come.

Social Robotic Bees to Prevent Killer Bee Attacks on Cities

Throw the Ball!

by Scott Smith

arf.jpg

Disappearing Disease

by Scott Smith

Everyone is talking about bees and how entire colonies are leaving their hives and disappearing, never to be seen again. Whatever is causing it has been known by a lot of names (including ‘disappearing disease’) but ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’ seems to be the most widely accepted ‘official’ name for whatever it is. Quite honestly, this scares the bejeebers out of me. Its something I generally try not to talk about in front of my children because I remember being in middle school and being told by a teacher that when I became an adult I would have to have an actual wheel barrow full of money in order to buy one loaf of bread. I always took stuff like that to heart and generally suffered a lot of anxiety all through childhood. But, I digress.
honeybee.jpg

There are several theories about why bees might be disappearing including global warming, genetically modified crops, pesticides, and neonicotinoids (now strictly limited in France because of their implication in the die off of bees). The general consensus is that whatever is killing them is a new threat, so it seems to me that traditional pesticides can be scratched from that list since, in reality we are probably using fewer of those now than we were back in the 1950’s and this die off is relatively recent (although not so recent that it shouldn’t have been getting more attention before now). The neonicotinoids are interesting though, because I think everyone thought that because it is derived from nicotine (so wonderfully natural) that we were using ‘safe’ chemicals, but, Mother Nature laughs at us as usual. While neonicotinoids are considered to be very safe for people we shoot ourselves (and our crops) in the foot because they are extremely harmful to pollinators like bees (suppressing their immune systems and leaving them susceptible to opportunistic diseases like mites and fungi). And, no pollinators, no food!

I’m hungry just thinking about it.

abfnet.org
Washington Post article
maarec.cas.psu.edu