Not too long ago, environmentalists, backed by big media, and of course, Hollywood, created a scandal about the supposed termination of bees due to evil capitalism. They don’t mention it anymore. Moreover, now there are more bees than there were earlier. Capitalism did not kill the honeybees. It saved them.
A little more than a decade ago, beehives were collapsing at an alarming pace. Many environmentalists, along with the mainstream press, and the entertainment world announced an ecological apocalypse with the imminent extinction of the bees and the “end of pollination.” Their panic driven message included an animated film on the topic for children in North America when, in fact, bees are not native to this region. They are an invasive species introduced artificially by breeders. There is no lack of native pollinating species in the continent. The alarmists thus exposed how “knowledgeable” they genuinely are.
The issue was that in 2006, beekeepers – primarily but not exclusively in the United States and Canada – began to see excessive and mysterious losses of bees in winter. After that, more winter deaths than deemed reasonable were reported. Environmental activists – professionals not of ecology but revolutionary socialism – saw the opportunity of a new media scandal to convey their totalitarian message. Moreover, they took advantage of the situation.
Soon, the mainstream media in the United States, which tilts heavily to the left, was crying about the grand ecological crisis of the imminent extermination of the bees. Time Magazine scandalously titled it the “bee-pocalypse”: a term adopted by the bulk of the left-leaning press in the country. No less apocalyptic were those who preferred to call it “beemageddon.” However, the media failed to report the whole issue truthfully. By 2013, US National Public Radio cautioned that “the harvest had reached a critical point.” Time Magazine dared to forecast an immediate future of “a world without the bee.”
They used Captain Renault’s immortal method in the film Casablanca to go after the usual suspects, i.e., Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and transmission of high voltage electricity: the guilty favorites of political ecologists since the time of the Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. (Carson was responsible for the first major environmentalist political success with the DDT ban. The prohibition caused the death of millions of people in third world countries with the reintroduction and spread of malaria and other endemic diseases). Environmentalists claimed that neonicotinoid pesticides targeted the bees. However, independent research, as well as the EPA, confirmed that these pesticides do not significantly affect the bees. Nevertheless, the EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides increased the use of more dangerous substitutes.
Further, the Obama administration dedicated 82 million USD and a committee to the issue. Opportunistic brands adopted “save the bees” campaigns. Nothing useful came out of this. The exception was the honey industry, which actually gambled its existence. There, in the core of agrarian capitalism, they looked for (and found) solutions.
In a nutshell, beekeepers in much of the world – and especially in North America – are “nomads.” They move their hives at night along pollination regions. They contract with farms. They install hives between crops that guarantee honey production and require their bees for pollination. Beekeepers go from crop to crop in the routes that best suit farmers and beekeepers. In winter, the hives rest elsewhere. It is after the winter that we see the fall of bee colonies.
It is not new that more bees die in that part of the cycle. It’s the unusual number. The one that in some cases, causes the hives to disappear.
Beekeepers identified the two apparent factors causing the problem: mites and fungi. Then they combated the issue with appropriate pesticides. They attacked them with mite killers and pesticides much to the outrage of the ecologist. The industry has also increased the supply of queen bees to repopulate the new hives quickly. A queen is nothing more than a bee that is fed royal jelly. Queen producers can produce them very quickly and sell them at low prices. So it was in the interest of the capitalist honey industry – the one that invests in keeping the bees from which it makes its profits – that capitalism saved the bees.
Today, there are more bees than there were earlier. An important fact is that the introduction of bees in territories where they are not native- like North America- was more than 100 years ago. It happened alongside the expansion of cash crops which could not depend on native pollinators. The honey industry is the only one that has the incentives and the capacity to increase the number of bees.
Instead of sitting on presidential committees to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on useless – and often counterproductive – measures, nomadic beekeepers confronted disease and parasites. They attacked the causes and reproduced more bees. They continue on the roads of crops, in trucks of bees and honey, providing pollination services demanded by farmers.
Also, you already know why the big media will not tell you about this success. They forecasted a “world without the bee,” demanded regulations, taxes, and bureaucracy. They cannot attribute success to the government here. Neither can they promote socialist intervention by reporting what actually happened. They also do not wish to shed light on the recurring failure of their apocalyptic prophecies.
However, I intentionally exaggerated the title of this column. Because another part of the press – for now, a minority – do publish it. And today -outside of countries under totalitarianism or strong authoritarianism- the information or disinformation that everyone has is what they ask for on social networks. Those who did not know how and why capitalism saved the bees were the ones who did not want to know. The problem is that, unfortunately, it was a very voluntarily misinformed majority.