If you guys have heard any stories about bees lately, they have probably been about the rapid and random colony collapses happening all over. If this were Africanized killer Nazi mutant zombie bees, perhaps these stories would be in celebration, but we’re talking about good old-fashioned honeybees, without which honey and peanut butter sandwiches would not exist. And if those do not exist, well, we might as well go jump off an abandoned honey factory.
While many theories have attacked those classic villains, pesticides, as the culprit in the mysterious bee deaths — just this week, the EU talked about banning certain insect pesticides — the truth may lie elsewhere within the realm of human error. Entomologists from the University of Illinois have published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that contains possible proof that these bees are dying because profit-minded beekeepers substituted the bees’ honey diet with high-fructose corn syrup, a cheap alternative. We all know that sweet, sweet corn syrup is already a plague on humanity, with its inherent risks of obesity and diabetes, but the reason it’s killing the bees off is something different.
While the corn syrup isn’t harming the bees directly, it is depleting the bees’ immune system resistance to toxins within the pesticides used to kill other insects. Pollen walls contain the enzyme p-coumaric, which is responsible for boosting a bee’s detoxification genes. So once that gets removed from a bee’s diet, it becomes susceptible to airborne toxins, and before you know it, mass extinction.
Should this turn out to be the real reason for all the bee death, there’s no need for bee-reavement, since it’s a simple enough solution in the long run. And there’s always that robotic honey bee to fall back on. Not literally, though, as you might get robot bee guts on your pants.