By Dave Lindorff
Scientists are puzzling desperately over the reason for the disappearance of honeybees across most of the continental United States, talking direly of a collapse in agricultural production. All manner of theories are springing up--microwave radiation, pesticides, genetically engineered plants, global warming and what all.
Yet what seems most likely is that the bees are simply revolting at their exploitation by management.
Consider this: Beekeepers have been increasingly overworking their "workers," shipping them hither and yon, even cross country by semi-trailer, to boost their profits, all the while siphoning off ever more of the bees' surplus value--the honey they make. I suspect that as long ago predicted by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the contractictions finally reached a point where the worker bees are revolting, just leaving the hive and going out on their own in what amounts to a "fly-out" strike.
So I say good for them. There's a lesson for us all in this militant response to a national "speed up."
Meanwhile, we should also note that honeybees are in fact interlopers--the insect equivalent of the immigrants that US capitalists ship or lure across the border to work for cheap wages here in the US. Just so were honeybees imported from Europe to be used by agribusiness here to boost production.
Meanwhile, the domestic workers of America--the native bees--have been pushed to near extinction by the wave of honeybee workers. Now that the honeybees are going native though, perhaps the local bees--ground bees, bumblebees, wood-boring bees, etc.--will come back to reclaim their natural niches. That won't help agribusiness, which needs the industrial-strength honeybee, but it will keep our forests and fields healthy.
So, here's to the rebellious honeybee workers! We should honor their bold action, learn from it, and endeavor to copy them ourselves.
Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky, is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006 and now available in paperback edition). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net