The Buzz About Bees

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If you’re in the area of Rockford, Illinois tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be at the Discovery Center Museum speaking about bees & pollination, along with beekeeper Phillip Raines.

I can almost guarantee that the most entertaining part of the afternoon will be watching me squirm during a screening of Vanishing of the Bees, another of those documentary films that blames pesticides* for colony collapse disorder, despite uncertain and contradictory evidence. Will I remain cool, tactful, and professional? Or will I drop into a seething, spittle-flecked rant in front of dozens of schoolchildren? Yes, you probably won’t want to miss that.

More seriously, honey bees have been on the decline since the 1940s in this country, as have other important pollinators. I will be addressing why this matters.

Here are the details:

The Buzz About Bees
Sunday, May 22, 1:00-4:00pm

Discovery Center Museum
711 North Main Street
Rockford, IL 61103


*Well, at least the movie isn’t about cell phones.

8 thoughts on “The Buzz About Bees”

  1. As someone who occasionally gets paid to watch bad movies I find imagining the following helps out a lot: Spontaneous Song and Dance! Muppets! Replacing one of the main characters with Chris Tucker.

    Saying it’s Based on an incredibly true story helps too but I don’t think that applies. Also if it’s a sequel I like to add “Electric Boogaloo” to the title. For example, “Vanishing of the Bees 2: Electric Boogaloo.”

    Best of luck.

  2. I’ll go for the seething, spittle-flecked rant as well.
    But seriously, do you have a good response to this kind of thing?

  3. “I can almost guarantee that the most entertaining part of the afternoon will be watching me squirm during a screening of Vanishing of the Bees, another of those documentary films that blames pesticides* for colony collapse disorder, despite uncertain and contradictory evidence.”

    Get over it Alex. Marla Spivak is a SCIENTIST. A prestigious one at that having been named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010. Pesticides are a component of colony collapse.

    1. My beef is not with Marla Spivak, who does fine work. It’s with the movie makers who did a simply terrible job of interpreting scientific studies in order to serve a preexisting agenda.

      For what it’s worth, I am also a SCIENTIST. Do you only respect the opinions of SCIENTISTS when they agree with you?

      1. I thought SCIENCE was objective and value free and only relied on data. Are there two kinds of SCIENTISTS now? Ones we agree with and ones we don’t?

        Science is political Alex.

        Many scientists now believe that pesticides are a significant factor in the decline of bees; Marla is just one of them. You claim she does fine work yet from your postings you appear to ridicule any connection between the two. I couldn’t keep silent.

        Thanks for listening.

        1. I don’t think you understand my position, Ellen.

          There are many potential factors in CCD, one of which is pesticides. I regard the pesticide-CCD link as relatively weak in the United States because:

          1. The Neonicotinoid pesticides in question were in broad use years before CCD.

          2. There is no obvious correlation in space between CCD and pesticide application. That is, many pesticide-heavy areas (like Illinois, where I keep my bees) appear CCD-free, while CCD was showing up in places without as much pesticide use.

          3. The physiological symptoms in the guts of CCD bees are suggestive of pathogen damage, and some pathogens correlate strongly with CCD.

          It is possible that Neonicotinoids weakened bee immune systems just enough that a healthy bee can survive, but a new pathogen might stress the bees to the point of collapse. This area is still not well understood.

          NONE of this uncertainty is reflected in the recent spate of activist documentaries. Those folks have their story and omit mentioning contradictory data. I’m not ridiculing a pesticide-CCD connection, I’m ridiculing the lack of intellectual rigor on the part of the anti-pesticide activists.

          I do not dispute that pesticides are bad for bees, or that pesticides have something to do with the overall decline in bee populations since WWII.

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