Sweet Nothings Versus Honeyed Incentives

A reader recently sent me an article on the deepening problems with hive collapse and honeybees:

A record 36 percent of U.S. commercial bee colonies have been lost to mysterious causes so far this year and worse may be yet to come, experts told a congressional panel Thursday.

The year’s bee colony losses are about twice the usual seen following a typical winter, scientists warn. Despite ambitious new research efforts, the causes remain a mystery….

We’ve previously discussed the mystery of hive collapse, and what it can mean for all of us — given how many crops depend on pollination from bees, it’s an enormous problem. One would think this would be an issue that would call a vast amount of concern on Capitol Hill — with the right amount of sweetener for participation, apparently:

So far, Agricultural Research Service Administrator Edward Knipling told the House panel, scientists believe that "various stresses" — such as parasites, pathogens and pesticides — can build up in a bee colony and cause its demise. Some research has specifically identified a particular virus, called the Israeli acute paralysis virus, which is closely associated with colony collapse.

Meanwhile, there isn’t enough money to probe all the pollen and bee samples that researchers have collected, said Penn State University senior extension associate Maryann Frazier.

There are some 2,000 samples on shelves waiting to be analyzed by the federal government for $200 a pop, she said.

"The bee research community is quite small," she said. "The research and money has been very minimal. What we need is more manpower to tackle this."

Further illustrating how political pollination works, Pien and bee-friendly representatives hosted a Capitol Hill briefing Wednesday that lured participants with lots of free Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream cups. Dozens of congressional staffers fluttered by for a quick taste. Haagen-Dazs has retained a D.C.-based public relations firm to help make its case, while the American Honey Producers Association paid the lobbying firm Winston and Strawn $860,000 in the last two years, records show.

Given the scanty showing of legislators at an awful lot of the hearings of late, I have to say it was a clever move to tempt them with ice cream to get them to participate. Maybe we should do the same thing for rule of law issues. Chocolate anyone?

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