The Plight of the Honeybee

That haunting quote is a favorite of bee enthusiasts like this week’s Carrie “Honeybee” Brown, who see the plight of the honeybee as a major threat to our food supply and ecosystem.

Already, bees that once freely pollinated crops on the eastern seaboard are bussed from southern states where their food supply is more plentiful. The transnational migration was captured by NPR’s Planet Money.

Brown’s plan to attach sensors to bees’ backs and track their movements around the neighborhood is more than a fun activity for kids. It’s part of a global research effort to better understand the bee in an effort to limit environmental causes of their decline.

Already, we know bees are affected by a worsening food supply, harsher winters, and a variety of parasites that are decimating colonies. But harsh urban environments and agricultural pesticides could be contributing to hive death. Tracking bees’ movements will help pinpoint the effects of human development on the health of neighboring hives.

Intel produces the sensors Brown will be using. They produced this short documentary to promote their work, and it gives a good rundown of the difficulties facing the humble honeybee.

What do you think about the plight of the honeybee? Would you welcome an apiary in your backyard? Feel free to let us know in the comments below — and don’t miss this week’s show for more interesting tales of human and animal interactions.