Queen of the Sun–Honey Bee Colony Collapse
Years ago I used to get a group of friend together for a debate night. It didn’t work. Either we all agreed on a topic and the debate portion of the night ended early or people didn’t want to come because they thought they would feel too heated about the topic. But a couple of weeks ago I went to a college friend’s house to watch The Queen of the Sun, an excellent movie on the colony collapse problem with bees, followed by discussion groups. It is a brilliant idea to pick an important or relevant topic and have everyone get together to learn more about and then discuss the issue. It was sort of like a book club but we got to read the book together that night.
The format of the night was fantastic and so was the movie. As a novice bee keeper who lost all her bees last year, here are some of the highlights that stunned me.
· Queen honey bees will naturally mate with twelve different bees on one day. This provides them with eggs for the next three to five years. The multiple partners created diversity among the bee population. Now many queens are artificially inseminated, which decreases the diversity among the bee population.
· We transport bees from as far as New England to California in order to pollinate almond trees. Many of the bees die during transport. One year when we didn’t have enough bees to in the United Stated to transport so we shipped them in from Australia which brought unknown diseases to our bees. It’s enough to make me consider giving up almonds.
· All bees are pollinators—even the mean ones like hornets. Since bees pollinated 40% of the food we eat and they seem to be dying for reasons we can’t explain, you might want to reconsider the next time you try to kill any type of bee. Flies are pollinators too. They just don’t pollinate the food we eat.
· The honey found in King Tut’s tomb 2000-years after his death was still edible.
The movie was fascinating and the more I learn about bees the more intrigued I am by them. They are incredible little creatures who work so hard and create so much.