To Bee Or Not to Bee In The History Of Mankind
“Sì come schiera d'ape, che s'infiora / as a host of bees, which blooms” said Dante Alighieri in Paradiso, XXXI, v.7
The Popol Vuh , the sacred book of the mythology of the Maya, tells how the bee was born from an 'universal beehive' that represents paradise and that the gods sent the bees to earth to promote the spiritual elevation of mankind, removing him from ignorance and barbarism. The Maya culture also provides a scientific rational to the disappearance of these little insects. A few years ago, the World Watch Institute issued a warning that a third of the beehives in the United States were disappearing due to bees dying. This may not have the same sensational value as huge dinosaurs becoming distinct, but the death of the bees impacts on the survival of mankind.
Ah-Muzen-Cab or Mok Chi, shown with insect wings, perhaps patron deity of beekeepers, on a codex-style Maya vessel. ( Public Domain )
The Decline Of Bee Populations
An immediate negative effect may be a sharp drop in the production of honey, wax, propolis and other useful products, but there may be other consequences such as crop production failure, as the Italian biologist Giuseppe Sermonti has wisely pointed out. As a matter of fact, flying from one calyx to another looking for nectar, the bees – and many other insects - carry on their legs the various pollens which are thus deposited on the stigmas of other flowers, fecundating them and giving life to new fruits. The progressive disappearance of bees could mean a vast sterility of crops, a drastic drop in fruit harvests, a fragmentation of the food chain, with disastrous consequences for both animals and man. Sermonti investigated the causes for the decline in bee populations. He found bees wisely avoid genetically modified crops, and neither the ‘greenhouse effect’ nor the ‘ozone hole’ can be held responsible, nor can pesticides and chemical fertilizers be blamed beyond all reasonable doubt.
The University of Landau (Germany) has conducted a study that the reason could be constituted by an imbalance of an electromagnetic field that embraces this planet, an imbalance due both to the excessive pollution from radio frequency sources (radio transmitters, TV, mobile phones, radar, etc.) and - perhaps even more so - by an anomalous solar activity that could upset the communication system of the insects. The German researchers placed powerful sources of electromagnetic waves at various frequencies next to beehives, to prove this.
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Top Image : Cupid the Honey Thief by Albrecht Dürer (1514) Kunsthistorisches Museum ( Public Domain )