Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L. (emo_snal) wrote,
Echidna Media Organization project S.N.A.L.

Honeybees Are Overrated

   Don't get me wrong, you know I like bees, but I'm also a huge fan of being realistic about things. I just finished about a month of working the beekeeper's association booth at the local fair, and have some venting to do about the things people say. I address most of the dumb questions in this other post, but I'd like to address two issues more in depth.

I. "Albert Einstein said if the bees disappeared all humans would be gone within four years"

   Is a quote I've seen bandied around a number of times and a pretty fair number of people coming through the booth liked to recite it for me. However, consider:

(A) Honeybees aren't native to the Americas
(B) Humans lived in the Americas just fine prior to the introduction of what they called "white man's flies" by European colonists

   So how would a genius like Einstein get this wrong? Well the answer is quite simple really: he didn't. He didn't say it.

   The quote doesn't appear anywhere until 1994 (39 years after his death), where its used in a pamphlet protesting tariffs alleged to harm French beekeepers.

II. Honeybee Pollination is Responsible for 1 Out of Every 3 Bites You Eat

Is often noted anywhere people are trying to talk up bees and beekeeping, including on some of our club stuff at the fair I think. My main objection is just that putting it that way makes it sound like some odd sort of food russian roulette, where no matter what you're eating, every third bite was touched by a bee.

   Also, I'm not sure who did the math on that one, but I'm told that none of the world's top 12 most consumed crops ("bananas, wheat, rice, potatoes etc") are pollinated by bees. (But most fruits are, and meat counts via the pollination required for alfalfa for livestock feed, so it depends on your diet really)

III. Honeybees are just so special!

   Or some such. Don't get me wrong they ARE important because while life won't stop without them, nothing else extant is as effective at mass pollination of fields. BUT in terms of inherent value other than that, they're not more special to me than say bumblebees or wasps or butterflies or .. possums. But people come into the bee booth acting like honeybees deserve some special sacred appreciation just because.. they're useful to us?
   Someone was going on the other day about all the harmful things humans have done to the honeybee's environment, to which I pointed out "you know what the most environmentally destructive thing we've probably done involving honeybees is? Introduce them to America ... which pushes all the native pollinators out of their niche and messes up the ecosystem."

   In conclusion, it's not that I've become actually anti honey bee or anything, I still think they're fascinating, I just would prefer people keep everything in perspective.

(special thanks to klig and whatisbiscuits for the mythbusting help (: )

***Edit: dammit this was supposed to be posted to emosnail. Hence the reason it partially rehashes the last entry here. d: Sorry about that

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