I grew up loving bees. I was severely bullied as a child and I found refuge listening to the humming of the hives. It not only calmed the anxiety within me, it made me realize we are a part of a much larger world. I can remember going to an apple orchard when I was seven years old. I was fascinated. They had goats, chickens, a small farmer’s market and bee hives. While most of my peers were terrified of the little golden creatures, I was not. I volunteered to visit the hives. Dressed in a proper beekeeping costume and ready to explore, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. I watched as the beekeeper pulled a tray from the box. While the bees were sleepy, they still moved rather rapidly. The worker bees were moving around, doing their little bee-dance. Happy as can be, I didn't mind the bees swarming around me. I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t duck or wince when they landed on the net covering my face. I embraced them. I welcomed them. The beekeeper told me the calmer you are, the more likely they’ll find you approachable.
"They don’t want to sting you," he said. "She only wants her sweet nectar." Since then I have dedicated time to learning about bees.
I have watched dozens of documentaries, read around 100 books and articles. I have written research papers on bees. I have planted pollinator-friendly flowers and herbs. This year I hope to build a bee box with a friend. One day in the near future, I will be a beekeeper. I will teach my son to love the bees as I have.
It’s nearing the end of May. How many of you have seen a single bee? By the time mid-April was here, I had only see one. One single, lonely bumblebee, searching for a new home. By now, I would hope everyone knows about the problem with bees. I’m not talking about the sting- I’m talking about a devastating issue called Colony Collapse Disorder, better known as CCD.
Beekeepers everywhere will tell you they have lost drastic amounts of bees over the last 12 years.. Specific toxins in pesticides, such as Neonics, rapidly kill bees. The bees who aren’t affected by this toxin only take it back to the hive to have it spread to other bees. It impairs their ability to think, to walk, to fly. In an affected hive, you can see dozens – hundreds, even – of bees pacing in circles around the hive, confused and disoriented. You can even see it in the “wilderness,” where bees will fly in circles or will land repeatedly on the same stone or buzz frantically against a window.
With a rise in pesticide use, we have perfected the perfect murder. Beekeepers often find their hives near-empty with only drones and the queen inside. No worker bees. No bodies to show the missing. Bees will not return to the hive to die; they die in the wild, alone. If you’re an avid bee-lover like me, these sights will sadden your heart quickly.
What are we doing to this beautiful planet we call home? Think before you act. If you must use pesticides, purchase an organic version that does not contain harmful chemicals (plant-enzyme is the usual base). Make your own with peppermint oil and water. Be mindful in what you are doing, especially when it involves outdoor plants that bees will come in contact with. Do your own research, be your own advocate. When purchasing plants, make sure they haven’t been treated with harmful pesticides. Make sure the soil you purchase hasn’t been treated. One trace of pesticides and the whole thing might as well be a ticking time bomb. Do bees a favor and help save them. The simplest things can make a world a difference.
CJ LaRose is a writer and jewelry artist. When she's not working on those creative projects, she's caring for her young son, gardening, baking and in training to become a volunteer Fire Fighter. She resides with her family in Pennsylvania.