The Plight of the Bee

I was stung by a bee the other day while bike riding on the Mt. Vernon Trail. The little bugger got into my helmet, and the sting was painful, causing quite a spastic moment for onlookers. But I have to say, when I got my helmet off and saw that the offender had survived its attack, I was happy. Bees, while little pests at times, are very needed… and endangered.

Bees, in particular honey bees, are disappearing from our world. There are a few reasons scientists are debating, but the impact on our food supply cannot be underestimated. Bees are a top pollinator and are often used in farms to ensure well, that crops actually grow. Without bees you are looking at a serious food crisis.

There’s a vaccine for honey bees now, which will hopefully resolve the issue. It’s not just honey bees. I’ve noticed that there a lot less bees around, in general. Yellow jackets, for example, are much less present in my neighborhood as compared to five years ago. They’ve migrated north.

Beyond bees there’s a larger trend at play, amphibians and bats have suddenly started dropping dead. The New Yorker chronicled the mass endangerment and possible extinction of these species in a recent article, which showed empirically that we are in the Sixth Age of Extinction.

It’s hard to argue deny that the rise of the human race is having a dramatic affect on our earth. Our incredibly burgeoning population and the resulting vast amount of pollution and excess energy burned is creating what I continue to believe is the crisis of our generation. The evidence is mounting, and worse, it’s accelerating. Whether it’s the bees or frogs, the Antarctic ice or the ocean temperature, we’ve created a ticking time bomb called climate change.

I’ve been blessed to do a lot of nonprofit work over the years, but this is the crisis of our generation. It seems though we acknowledge the issue, we are intent on letting it escalate until the consequences become dire. And that scares the daylights our of me. See climate change is nondiscriminatory, race, ethnicity, sex, age, region, economic status. It will affect us all. We have to do something.

And when I think of my own actions, increasingly I am focussing on this crisis. I continue to work with Live Earth as a social media advisor, and increasingly I am doing more privately to work on climate change. While I am sure this activity will continue to accelerate in my life, in the interim I’ll be grateful for my bee sting. I hope to get a few more this lifetime, climate change willing.


  • Bees are important. Climate is important. But there is a weak formal connection between human-caused climate stress and bee colony collapse.

  • We have plenty of bees in our orchard. The caretaker says they don’t like being moved around as much as they are for commercial purposes. No place like home I guess. I’m sure there are many factors… these things are complex. The vaccine folks seem to always have “the” answer. Hope on this one, they do.. but vaccines don’t address the causes.

  • The referenced New Yorker article is something you should read, Mark. Many species are suddenly faced with viruses or bacteria that are wiping out 80-90% of their populations. This rise in mass extinction events has coincided and increased with global warming and human population growth rates. Where there is smoke there is fire.

  • As a scientist, I would say that where there is smoke, there is reason to conduct experiments to determine if it is most likely caused by the hypothesized fire.

  • Hey Mark, why don’t read the article first? Scientists who have actually worked in the field are well cited throughout it. It seems to me you have no experience as a climatologist.

  • Thanks Geoff. I was one of the people at work to get calls about the bee problem a while back, because as it happens I’ve published a bit on climate, national security, ecology, and…bees.

    Admittedly I’m not a “climatologist,” and this isn’t the forum for a full-blown scientific debate, and it’s one interesting article, but there genuinely are a lot of open scientific questions out there about this topic.

    (Incidentally, “It’s hard to argue that the rise of the human race is having a dramatic affect on our earth.” says the opposite of what you mean to say.)

  • Well, Mark, it’s disappointing to see you defending a point of view that clearly undermines the environmental movement. Because there a lot of scientists who have stood in the way of acknowledging climate change, which evidence demonstrates is accelerating and coincides with population increases. I find that scientists are just like every other classification of people, they have an opinion and use facts to defend that opinion.

    Since you are such an expert on climatology, ecology and bees, perhaps you have read James Lovelock’s “The Vanishing Face of Gaia.” It’s a very interesting read on the issue, and the political pronouncements that scientists make to support governmental agendas… Rather than the empirical evidence.

  • Geoff, if you actually read what I’ve published in the Washington Times and in Science about climate change, you’d see that I wrote that it was an important and underconsidered issue in national security (which is now being taken more seriously). Your accusations are baseless, since I’ve defended no such point of view. And it’s pretty clear this conversation is over.

  • Mark, I guess it is. It just seemed your point was to have an argument or be right. What I was arguing is whether or not the comment, “there is a weak formal connection between human-caused climate stress and bee colony collapse” and climate change in general is a valid position, scientist or not. I think not.

  • If you guys are interested I am a freshman at Stanford University and during my junior year of high school I wrote this book and did a documentary film both entitled ‘The Plight of the Bee’.

    Here are the links:

    Häagen-Dazs actually featured it on their website and had me do a viral video for them called ‘Do the Honey Bee’

    Here are the links for that as well:

    Huffington Post article

    Please pass the video along.



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