Greetings and Salutations;
Sigh….the world of the beekeeper is full of odd moments these days. The problems with bees being killed off by environmental pressures continues, and hives across the land are being exterminated. The stupidity of people continues to be amazingly obviouse, and is costing the bees huge amounts.
For example, a little while ago, there was a burst of fear over the appearance of the Zika virus bearing mosquitoes in the United States. Well, the bright souls in South Carolina hopped into their spray trucks, loaded them up with insecticides and spent days running around, pumping toxins into the air. The end result? THey probably killed some mosquitoes, but, they also killed millions of bees in the area! The really sad thing is that if they had adjusted the TIME that they sprayed, many of these bees would still be alive. Here is a discussion about this debacle
Other states are taking saner steps. For example, Hawaii has just declared honey bees an endangered species! With luck, this will spread throughout the States, and perhaps even get to a Federal Level.
There are some folks that believe that Technology can fix the problem too. I just ran across THIS STORY discussing the concept of creating millions of small robots that will take over the job that bees do to pollinate plants! Now, I am certainly a friend of technology, but, to me, this is, perhaps more offensive than half the nonsense that spews from The Donald’s, and his surrogate’s mouths! Why do I dislike this so much. Well, first off, I am a beekeeper. I do not do this because I look upon the girls as a mechanical resource that I can make a ton of money from. I do it because I admire their ecosystem, their success, and the calming spirit that drives them. Bees are amazing examples of a hive mind, and have many positive aspects. I have to say that I do like honey too, of course!
Replacing bees with technology has several problems for me.
- It sounds as if it is an excuse for wiping a species off the planet…and allows us to avoid responsibility for that event. We are called to be good Stewards of the Earth, and killing off a species through greed or stupidity is NOT being a good Steward!
- I do not think that the micro-robots being discussed will be able to do the job of pollination as well as bees perform it today. Given a field of flowers, will the robots be able to collect pollen and pollinate other flowers to an adequate percentage.
- There are power limitations that will cause problems. This includes processing power – in that it takes a chertain level of knowledge to be able to navigate to a target, perform an action, and return to home base. This also takes a fair amount of actual power. Bees get their energy from digesting honey and nectar. What will provide this energy for the micro-robots?
- There is the reliability issue. Bees are fairly tough organisms. Can these micro-robots approach that? What about the issues of the environment, such as dust, or rain? How many of these micro-robots will be destroyed by less than perfect conditions.
- This brings up the issue of costs. Micro-Robots cost something to create. Even if this is less than a penny each, it will be a significant cost to the farmer…raising our food costs further. Honey Bees, though, are self-replicating. The only thing the beekeeper needs to do to keep a supply growing in their Apiary is to provide food, water and a Queen. Even if the keeper replaces that queen every three years, that will be less than $10/year. Will micro-robots be that cheap? I rather doubt it.
- An important part of the bee’s job is to create honey. I find it VERY unlikely that the micro-robots will be able to do this.
So…I suggest that we, as a species, would be better served by cleaning up our environment, and making it more friendly to the bees, than chasing solutions that will cost humanity money and resources, and likely not work as well as a natural tool.
Bee Man Dave
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