Drinks in hand, Mike and I stepped onto our boat for a quiet evening ride around the lake. We noticed a few bees buzzing around the front of the pontoon and absent-mindedly shooed them away.
Bees are the world’s leading crop pollinators.
I was getting settled in my usual spot when I flicked away a bee and spilled my entire glass of wine. While lamenting that tragedy, I felt a sharp sting on my right middle finger. I held it up in what appeared to be an angry gesture I don’t usually use. “Stupid bee!” I wailed.
Since 2006, the bee population has declined considerably.
Looking to Mike for sympathy, I saw him dancing erratically on the dock. His gin and tonic glass lay empty on the ground. He was holding his cheek, and I could see a welt beginning to form. We realized the bees were darting in and out of a small opening between the boat seat cushions.
The causes for decline include pesticides, disease, parasites and climate change.
We ran to the top of the wooden stairs to regroup and come up with a battle plan. This was war.
If we lose the bees, we could lose all the plants they pollinate.
While I explained to our neighbors what all the buzz was about, Mike disappeared toward the house. He returned with fresh drinks in one hand and a can of insect spray in the other.
Eventually, we could lose the herbivorous animals that depend on those plants to live.
He violently sprayed directly into the opening where the bees were coming from. When the melee was over, we realized Mike had been stung several times on his arm, hand and face. He said he was fine and still wanted go on a short ride to watch the sunset.
Ultimately, this could work up the food chain leading to worldwide famine, poverty and possible extinction.
We were not yet out of our cove, when I saw Mike’s face getting blotchy and swollen. “My mips meel a mimmel mummm,” he said. “What? Your lips feel numb?” He nodded. We went back to the house and I gave him some Benadryl and an ice pack. I was dabbing his stings with vinegar when he mumbled his throat felt weird.
More immediately, we could say goodbye to honey as well as carrots, apples, lemons, onions, melons, almonds and coconuts.
Mike didn’t argue with me about going to the emergency room thirty-five minutes away. By the time we arrived, he looked a little like the Elephant Man. He got a shot in his rear and was monitored for a few hours. We left the hospital with a prescription for prednisone and a lifetime of bad bee puns.
To really bring it home, there would be no limes for a gin and tonic. No grapes for a glass of wine.
A couple of days later, we went down to the boat. Mike carefully lifted the seat cushion with a wooden oar, and we saw an empty bee hive the size of my head. He muttered something about losing the battle but winning the war.
A world without bees couldn’t possibly sustain our planet’s human population.
Looking at the destroyed hive, I expressed my concern for the bees and our environment. Mike stared at me incredulously, his hand and face still visibly swollen, and said, “If the bees want to survive, they need to stay off my boat.” Waving the oar, he added emphatically, “Bee-lieve me!” §
(Source for italicized information is BBC.com ~ pun not intended.)