Betty Duffy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gloom, Doom, and the Honeybee

“Chances that an American who has become unemployed since 2007 is a man: 4 in 5”
--US Bureau of Labor Statistics via Harpers Index

My dad and I run a very small, very amateur honey bee operation. It has been widely publicized that the population of the honey bee has diminished greatly over the past few years due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder.

No one knows exactly what is causing CCD, but one theory is that the hives, which are moved from orchard to orchard to pollinate throughout the blooming season, are simply working themselves to death.

One of the first things you learn about bees is that the worker bees are all female. They do the dirty work of collecting pollen, building comb, heating and cooling the hive, tending the queen and the brood. The worker bee is the life blood of the colony, and if there is work to be done, she cannot NOT do it.

The males, or drones, are needed to mate with the queen, and they are tolerated during a honey flow, but when the weather turns cool and the food becomes scarce, they are booted out of the hive to fend for themselves, and likely die.

It occurs to me that American life is the new beehive.

When a woman decides her clock has ticked long enough, and she wants a child, she can mate with a drone, or better yet, just purchase his frozen assets and conceive a small brood. She might even keep the fellow around long enough to care for the child while she goes back to work. She does make better money. A woman’s interpersonal skills are perfectly designed for the business model of the future: online networking, promoting, consulting.

And the man’s skill set…suffice to say is not finely honed to nurturing children and keeping a spotless house. No doubt, when the worker bee comes home once or twice to a messy kitchen, and children playing outside in nothing but a diaper, she will wonder why she continues to feed the male and send him packing.

And the little worker bee, with her happy paycheck, will quietly work herself to death, and the colony, well...


Kate said...

Gloom & Doom is right - what, have your kids dropped all their ink parlor aspirations or something?


Interesting metaphor, though.

jen said...

I agree, very interesting metaphor. A lot to think about. At any rate, a reoccuring theme I see emerging in many places is Man as Irrelevant.

TheSeeker said...

How beautifully phrased and how sadly true!

TS said...

Maybe, but the Queen bee does nothing but lay around the house and doesn't get kicked out like the drones.

Betty Duffy said...

Yeah, ink parlor is on the outs. Time to be disgusted about something else.

TS, I thought about that whole queen bee thing, tried to tie it into the stay-at-home-mom who sits around the house eating royal jelly, and having babies, perhaps blogging--seems a good foil to the worker bee. Then again, a weak queen who quits laying eggs can be another cause of colony collapse. I wouldn't want to make THAT point. Better to ignore the queen altogether.

I have to admit, this post gets on my nerves.