I think that I shall never see, a poem lovely as a BEE March 23, 2012Posted by #4 in Everything but the kitchen sink, My attempt at humor.
Tags: Bee, Beehive, Beekeeping, Bill Maher, Evolution, God, Honey bee, NCIS, Stinger
My family is terrified of bugs. Jack the Ripper could invade our home and all he would get would be a yawn (thanks to episodes of NCIS and CSI) whereas a bug the size of nothing can send them into a panic only rivaled by stampeding cows. Doesn’t matter what kind, if there is a bug around there is much screaming and jumping and demands for annihilation and usually I am pressed into service as the annihilator. Spiders are the biggest scream inducers. On the scream scale they are perched securely at the top, even the spiders who are so tiny you need an electron microscope to see them have the ability to elicit a blood curdling scream, and it would take some new species of horrifically menacing, Bill Maher resembling insect, to knock them down the scale.
Now I’m not a big fan of squishing spiders. They are very beneficial. They catch and consume other bugs with scary efficiency. I would much rather have a spider hanging in my corner than the spiders potential steak and potatoes buzzing around my ears and trying to enter my nose. but in the interest of peace and sanity, I squish spiders. Other bugs do not get the same sympathetic squash from me. I mash them with unbridled glee and joy in their destruction. I could never be an entomologist. I have no interest in studying or preserving bugs – I just want to kill them.
There is one exception to this rule. Bees.
I have much love and respect for these critters in spite of all the times I have been nailed by a honeybee. And there were quite a few times I was nailed.
My dad built a pool in his back yard about 45 years ago. Before this pool went in he had a few bee hives against the wall of the garage, and we would play in the back yard with bees buzzing round our noggins. I remember one summer playing Frisbee with my brother and step-sisters in the back yard and the Frisbee sailed up under one of the hives. I ran to get it. I was probably 4 or 5 years old.
When I pulled the Frisbee out from under the hive it was covered with bees. Apparently the bees love playing Frisbee too. It was really cool holding this Frisbee that was covered in honeybees.
My siblings started yelling at me, saying “don’t shake the Frisbee!”
Remember where I told you I was 4 or 5 years old? Well, I heard, “… shake the Frisbee!”
This made perfect sense to my relatively new brain, after all, we couldn’t very well continue to play if the Frisbee had bees all over it and the bees for their part did not appear willing to share. So I gave it a good shake. I mean gravy off the ladle kind of shaking.
It worked amazingly well. Those bees just slid right off that Frisbee like it was covered in DNC posters. The only problem was, they didn’t slide very far.
In a cloud they came off and in a cloud they lit on me.
And they were mad.
Well, they weren’t so much mad as they were suicidal. You see when a honey bee stings you, because their stinger is barbed, the stinger stays lodged in your skin, frantically pumping venom like a little diesel engine, while the bee flies off, ripping the stinger and venom sack right out of their abdomen. This is of course fatal to the bee. So on that day, playing Frisbee, I had about a hundred honeybees commit suicide all over me. I was completely covered in venom pumping engines. I remember my dad picking out the stingers and wiping me down with Kerosene. Not sure why he used that, but I didn’t die and the stings healed up so I guess Kerosene is a good bee sting remedy; but I don’t recommend it much like I don’t recommend using Methialate on your boo-boos. And if you have no idea what Methialate is, count your blessings. It was red liquid fire that mom’s all across America used on all our cuts and scrapes. Thank God that’s no longer around.
Needless to say I have a healthy respect for bees and have since refrained from games of Frisbee with them. Soon after the pool was built I spent a lot of my swim time rescuing bees from the pool water, letting them dry themselves on my finger before flying off to try and drown in the pool again. My dad loved bees as well and would go out of his way to rescue a nest of bees interfering with construction on some building or house, so that he could start a hive with them. Otherwise the nest would have been destroyed resulting in the loss of thousands of bees. Dad had a next door neighbor named Hugh. I never remembered his last name, I only knew him as Hugh the Beeman. Hugh had dozens of hives in his yard and Dad and I would help him rob the hives. I absolutely loved chewing beeswax straight from the hive, sucking all the honey out of it.
Robbing bees is a fascinating process and also a prickly process. It is inevitable that while robbing a hive you are going to get stung. It doesn’t matter how many layers of clothes you wear, how meticulous you are in securing your head net and gloves, you will get stung. But for the reward of all that honey it is most certainly worth it. Dad and I were always covered in several layers and wore our hats with attached netting that tied around your neck over your collar and we always got stung. Hugh the Beeman, on the other hand, never wore a net or gloves and apparently never wore layers either. and if he ever got stung we never knew about it. I envied Hugh that ability.
To rob a hive, you needed patience, calm and smoke. The smoke was supposed to keep the bees from swarming while you pulled the screens covered in honeycomb and honey out to replace them with new screens so the bees could make more honey (I wish the bees that ended up inside my head net knew they were supposed to be calm – they never seemed to get the message). You did all this very slow and carefully because replacing screens could result in many bees getting squished, something no self-respecting beekeeper wants to happen.
Years later, I learned from my dad that his grandmother raised bees. Apparently she was so good at it that she could get swarms of wild bees that were on the move to a new nest site to swarm into one of her hives. Basically calling them out of the air. I know, sounds mystical and far fetched. But this was a different era and people had knowledge and skills long since lost to time and convenience. I believe it. Humorously, his grandpa didn’t have the same skill and was terrified of bees. but he was fascinated by the process and would hide behind trees while his wife captured the wild swarm. Soon he could be heard crashing through the woods screaming while being chased and stung by the bees.
So while I smash every spider menacing my family, I try valiantly to instill love and respect for honeybees, teaching my kids how to rescue them from water and how important they are to agriculture and peanut butter sandwiches. Sometimes they get it and sometimes they don’t. They’ve never had the benefit of robbing a hive to show them the importance of honeybees. But I keep trying.
The thing I love most about honeybees is that, in my opinion, they deliver an enormous haymaker to theoretical evolution, effectively knocking it out. Basically, the theory of evolution has no explanation for the bee because the theory itself cannot provide the means with which the bee operates by itself and within the nest. Consider these points.
- Honeybees use nectar from flowers to make honey. Nectar is basically a bonus to the bee for being thoughtful enough to pollinate the plant. The bee sucks this nectar and stores it in it’s second stomach, or honey-stomach. The nectar is then transported back to the nest in the wild or the hive on the farm with the load of nectar sometimes weighing as much as the bee itself. Then other worker bees suck the nectar from the honeybees stomach and chew it for about half an hour until enzymes break down the complex sugars of the nectar into simple sugars and then the worker bee stores it in the honeycomb where evaporation turns it into honey. Once a honeycomb cell is full the bees cover it with a lid of wax to be opened and eaten later during the winter months. Evolution cannot lead to the honey stomach let alone the actual process of honey making through the chewing of nectar or the enzymes needed to break it down. All these things had to be in place or the process does not work. Honey is also the only food known to exist that does not spoil.
- The cell a honeybee makes using wax is hexagonal in shape and trihedral on the ends allowing the cells to fit perfectly with opposing walls of honeycomb. The geometry alone in these constructions is enough to squash the evolutionary bug, not to mention all the other benefits of this design to the honeybee nest.
- Pollination: honeybees account for over 80% of all insect pollination and without them agriculture as we know it would not exist. Much too important to hang on the flimsy theory of evolution.
- Beeswax. a substance secreted by the bees glands and used to build the honeycomb. Beeswax is enormously beneficial and can be used for hundreds of purposes by humans; from art to furniture, drugs and building materials and on and on. Accidental mutation cannot account for this substance.
- Honeybees use Propolis, a sticky resin from trees, to mix with wax and repair the hive and seal cracks. Propolis is also used by humans in many products, including health aids. Gosh, how many times did it take a bee to figure out how to use Propolis before the honeycomb fell apart forcing the colony to start over? Another stick in the eye of evolution.
- The dance. Scout bees return to the hive and perform an intricate “dance” that tells every other bee where the flowers are relative to the sun and the nest. This has been scientifically observed down to the minutest detail. This form of communication is so complex and effective that the ability had to already exist or the colony would perish before they found the new source of pollen and nectar. Evolution can’t account for something this critical to the species.
- Temperature: 93° F is the constant year round temperature maintained in the nest. The temperature is maintained by the colony of bees themselves by either clustering together in the winter or spreading out and fanning the honeycomb with their wings in the summer. This temperature is critical to the development of larvae and the production of honey. Learned over time and millions of years? Not a chance.
- Royal jelly: this stuff is what turns an ordinary bee into a queen. It is so complex I couldn’t tell you all about it. See here and here for an explanation of royal jelly. Again – evolution fails to explain how this substance came to be. It is too complex to have developed over millions of years through trial and error. It had to already exist and be used by bees or there would be no queens. You see where this is going?
- Queens, workers and drones. See here for an explanation of each of these colony roles. There is so much complexity in a colony of bees, with each role carrying a specific purpose that accidental occurrences of each over time and then hanging around because it was beneficial is a poor explanation. These critters were designed the way they are and they function today the same as when they were created. Queens are not “born”, they are made. Same as the drones. This is not accidental nor is it possible for it to happen gradually over millions of years because the colony cannot exist without each of them fulfilling their unique roles immediately.
So the next time you’re swimming and you see a bee trapped in the water and struggling to get out, please give it a hand. Just reach in and let it crawl up on your finger to dry out and fly away (unless you’re allergic to bee stings – then you should definitely let it drown – or better yet, just toss it a branch or leaf to crawl up on). You will be doing the bee, you and the world a favor by saving this tiny miracle of creation. You see, without bees there would be no honey, that golden gooey yummy stuff we love to eat. And of course there would be no agriculture and nothing for beekeepers to do.
And the next time you get stung by a bee – just remember, it hurt them more than it hurt you.