I’m a beekeeper and like many beekeepers I have a strong connection with the bees. When I first took up this craft I was struck by the smell and the energy that seemed to emanate from the hive. I was lovestruck. Now I look after two colonies in the woods and can sit near the hives for timeless stretches. I visited them recently, on a strangely warm February day, and watched them come out of their winter huddle and do that dancing flight back and forth coming into the hive laden with gorse pollen. They were rather slow and dazed, as you would be if you’d spent the winter in a dark hive, keeping warm only by stored honey and the fanning of wings.
Now honeybees are dying. Last autumn, across the US, bee farmers started to notice that whole colonies were fleeing the hive never to return, leaving behind the queen and a cluster of enormously diseased bees. In many cases those bees were infected with a massive toxic load of virtually every bee virus and fungus known to man. This sudden and unprecedented collapse of colonies - dubbed the Marie Celeste phenomenon - is causing enormous concern among scientists and farmers, whose crops, and our food, depend on bee pollination. Some say it’s been happening in Europe too. More will be revealed when the hives are open come springtime. Wouldn’t it be terrible if the bees are dying out in order to show us how interdependent we are with all beings?