Bees on parade

Much has been written recently on the subject of bees, their startling and costly population decline, what may or may not be responsible. The problem is known informally as colony collapse disorder and its coverage unearths great statistics, like this one: “One of every three bites of food eaten worldwide depends on pollinators, especially bees, for a successful harvest,” taken from the lede of Lizzie Grossman’s article at e360.

Another story about bees — RoboBees, to be more precise — emerged this week. This led me to  a 2010 article by Jake Kosek at Berkeley that a friend recently emailed.

Kosek, publishing in Cultural Anthropology, is interested in deciphering the symbolic power of bees in American culture but, as above, the course of his writing unearths some unusual statistics. We learn in the abstract that, “at present, the largest source of funding for apiary research comes from the U.S. military…” And given bees’ potential as intelligence gatherers, the military is now “deploying bees as efficient and effective homeland security detective devices,” Kosek tells us through an interview with the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project Team at Los Alamos.

So the dying worker is replaced by the mechanized warrior.