Everybody knows that bees make honey. But how do the bee keepers get the honey without dying?... or being stung?
“Everybody knows that bees make honey. But how do the beekeepers get the honey without dying? Or being stung? You’d die if you were allergic to bees. And they stung you. And you were a beekeeper. Which means you probably chose the wrong profession.
Sticking your hand in the hive and trying to scrape off all that goldeny goodness really just never seemed like a smart thing to do. Yeah, I know they have those bee suits, but they didn’t always have bee suits, and they’ve been harvesting honey for a long time. The secret is smoke, but we’ll get to that in a second. I just wanted to tell you now in case you don’t have enough time to watch the rest of the show.
Somewhere between kindergarten and second grade, we all learn that bees work together, but different bees have different roles. Some bees stand in front of the camera, and they get all the glory and attention, and other bees hide behind the camera, and they don’t get blamed or called idiots when people don’t like what they hear. Then there are queen bees who just kick back and make all the babies, and then there are the baby bees, and the drones, and the worker bees, and you get the idea. Some of the middle-aged bees act as guards for the hive, because they’re the ones with the venom. Watch out for those middle-aged ones; they are deadly. And aren’t they female? The F of the S is more V than the M, after all.
When the guard bees get all riled up, they release a pheromone called isopentyl acetate – yeah. That’s the alarm odor that notifies the other middle-aged bees to defend the hive. [Sniffs] Do you smell something? Smells like trouble. It’s like walking into a room of angry feminists and saying, “Hi, ladies, what are you doing this evening? I’m a man!” Isopentyl acetate: it’ll kill ya.
Here’s where it all comes together: before the beekeepers go in and rip out the bees’ hard work, to put it in funny little bear-shaped jars, they use little smokers and shoot smoke into the hive. The smoke dulls the guard bees’ receptors, and they fail to receive or pass the signal along. I respect you as my equal. No, superior. That’ll keep the signal from transferring. Smoke. As an added bonus, the smoke makes the bees gorge themselves with honey; they get all loaded up in case they have to fly away from the hive. And as you can probably guess, honey makes bees lethargic. “Girl, I ate so much honey I can’t even possibly defend the hive!” “Do I look fat in these stripes?” “Oh no you didn’t tough my honey!” None of these comments are meant to be racist or sexist in any way. It’s just supposed to be funny. Bees are deadly; women are deadlier. Please don’t hurt us.
But they might not have to worry about defending anything for much longer. Bees all over the place are suffering from CCD: Colony Collapse Disorder. Commercial beehives are dying off at an alarming rate – like 40-90% per year, depending on who you believe, and whose hives, and how many bees. You may have seen articles in the news and figured, “It’s just bees – who cares?” But actually, bees are really important in the agricultural industry. Because at least 1/3 of our farm produce involves bee pollination. That’s right: no bees, no food. Well, for some crops, anyway.
People are blaming it on everything from pesticides to mites, to cell phones, but the real answer is, no-one really knows what’s happening. Except Hollywood: they know, and they’re making a movie about it. Thanks, M. Night Shalam-malalam– sha-malan– Shyamalan. I think that’s it. Sorry. He’s famous anyway; he doesn’t care. But unlike that story, this one doesn’t have a twist at the end. The bees are actually dying, and we need to figure out why. Why? Because I like honey. If you know what I’m saying. Just kidding. [Laughs]
Transcribed by: Justin G.
A few bee articles
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