Thus read the headline of the article in the Science + Health section of the local paper this past Sunday, April 26th. I was tragically unaware of this problem, as, I suspect, many of you reading this were as well.
Heather Mattila, a biologist at Wellesley College, and an undergraduate student, also from Wellesley, conducted a study that led to this important finding. The study was published in PLOS One (Public Library of Science One). PLOS One claims to be the world’s largest journal by numbers of papers published….and it’s easy to see why.
The study heads raised one group of bees with limited access to pollen and another with adequate pollen access. They then combined the bees in one hive and observed them.
Worker bees without access to adequate pollen early in life turn out to be poor foragers and dancers as adults, the study found. The bees “waggle dance,” a figure-eight movement, is used to communicate to other members of the colony how far and in what direction to fly to find flowers. Pollen-deprived bees that went out to forage often did not return.
“Pollen-stressed workers were less likely to waggle dance, and if they danced, the information they conveyed was less precise,” according to Mattila.
I couldn’t help noticing that, just like with humans, it was the worker bees that were pollen-deprived. I’m sure the One-Percent were rolling in the stuff, probably wrenched from the pollen-baskets of the workers that collected it. We all know the Queen Bee wasn’t suffering from pollen-deprivation!
As a first step in eliminating this imbalance, the hives should be forced into implementing a more progressive pollen-tax structure. Perhaps President Obama could accomplish this via executive fiat.
I would like to see public television hold a telethon for these forgotten heroes. It’s too bad Jerry Lewis isn’t with us anymore, as I’m sure he could have waxed poetic on their behalf. “These guys are the bees-knees…well actually, they are whole bees and they need your help! Please, please give all you can to the Thriving Hives Foundation. Won’t you help feed those who feed us? Your donation will help to raise the self-esteem of those in need by ensuring they can dance as often, and as well, as any other bee in their hive!”
Pollen levels, of course, have declined dramatically due to climate change. To make things worse, the budget for helping bees has recently been cut due to the sequester and Congressional Republican’s intolerance, bigotry, and general disdain for bees.
If you’d like to help, please go to the following websites:
WeCanDanceIfWeWantTo.com or BeeSomebody.org