Note to Bayer: Bite My Varroa Mite

Varroa Mite

When politicos and business leaders announce that they are convening the “best and brightest” you can rest assured that nothing good will come of it, particularly if you happen to be a bee.   In a laughable attempt to show that they really care about destroying the bee population of Europe with their pesticides, Bayer claims to have discovered the “real” culprit:  the Varroa Mite.   On behalf of bee-lovers everywhere I send this open note to Bayer:  Bite Me!

Quoting from an informative article published on December 11 in the New York Times by Danny Hakim:

While honey bees are susceptible to many threats, like beetles and bacterial diseases, a growing body of research has focused on neonicotinoids. In October, a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined how Bayer’s clothianidin “adversely affects the insect immune response and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honey bees bearing covert infections.”

Twenty varroa mites, he said, can turn into 1,200 in a matter of months. “Only one mite is necessary to kill more or less a whole colony,” he added  (i.e. Mr. Tritschler, a beekeeper, making a cameo appearance on behalf of Bayer).

Standing nearby, Utz Klages, a corporate spokesman (for Bayer), said “we have all the experts here.”

“We will not solve the problem tomorrow, no doubt about that, but together I think we can develop some innovative solutions.”

Now, if the brakes of an automobile manufacturer were causing a few fatalities, the Lords of Public Safety would order an immediate recall in the best interests of the public.  Sadly for bees, Bayer toxins will not be recalled because politicians still relish the honey provided by lobbyists and their corporate sponsors.   Sometime “tomorrow” the problem might be solved, but by then there may be no bees left to sting the collective conscious of Bayer’s scientists.

Can we really afford to wait until the food chain is thoroughly altered by what can only be called corporate genocide?

Raising Bees at Tarry Market

Man with BeehiveI have always been intrigued by bees.  Perhaps, it is because I have spent so much time catering to Thérèse, the Queen bee!  Several years ago, I decided to sign up for a one day class on “How to Raise Bees in your Backyard” at the Greenwich Continuing Education Center.  Let’s face it, the dogs had died and I was growing a bit weary of feeding wild birds, whose despicable eating habits simply attracted raccoons,  squirrels, possums and skunks.  Bees seemed like a great idea. At least we would have honey for breakfast.   I could easily see myself meandering about the backyard watching the bees do the heavy lifting in recycling the best that nature has to offer.  I’ve long admired British books in which one of the main protagonists raises bees or leads a sedentary life looking after sheep:  D. H. Lawrence and Patrick O’Brien spring to mind.

Thérèse was not amused.  My fallback project to build a bat shelter – to keep down the number of insects in the backyard – met similar disdain, if not outright derision.

Tarry Lodge HoneySadly, I have had to shelve my pet “pet” projects for quite a few years, but recently become quite animated when I discovered that no less of a culinary authority than Mario Batali was now harvesting honey from apiaries on top of the roof of Tarry Market in downtown Port Chester.  For those not familiar with Port Chester, it is a small town on the New York border adjacent to Greenwich. Presumably, the bees fly to Greenwich to collect their pollen, since I was not aware that Port Chester had any flowers.  (Editor’s Note:  Bees will fly “only as far as they need to” to collect pollen, but some suggest that a range of 5 to 10 miles is about the limit.)

I am not convinced that a thumbs-up from Mario will cut too much slack with Thérèse, but I am hopeful.  If fortunate enough to get the green light from Thérèse, I can envision Mario and myself putzing about the backyard in our orange clogs discussing the lives of bees, Italian cooking and other useful subjects.

Bee happy!

PS:  Thérèse didn’t say no this time, she simply sold the house.