I realize that there's a lot of things going on, most pointedly violence and heartbreak here and abroad. I also know of the slow moan of life's stresses, this imposed sense that we're doing nothing if we're not chasing something, wanting something, grasping for something—something, of course, that can be bought, something that's built to fall into disrepair in relatively good time so the cycle starts again. But stories like this one here (the decrease in bee population
, coined "disappearing bee syndrome") bother me at a different level. You sense a collective problem that knows no border, just like the melting of the arctic glaciers, which I spoke about before, a catastrophe in the making that will make the political intrigue and violence of headline vintage seem like something to long for. I'm not ready to walk around downtown Chicago with a cardboard sign: "The End is Near," but you sense something "near" that will alter the paradigms of our lives and our sense of normalcy and comfort.
So far, no one can say what is causing the bees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives. As with any great mystery, a number of theories have been posed, and many seem to researchers to be more science fiction than science. People have blamed genetically modified crops, cellular phone towers and high-voltage transmission lines for the disappearances. Or was it a secret plot by Russia or Osama bin Laden to bring down American agriculture? Or, as some blogs have asserted, the rapture of the bees, in which God recalled them to heaven? Researchers have heard it all. The volume of theories “is totally mind-boggling,” said Diana Cox-Foster, an entomologist at Penn State University. With Jeffrey S. Pettis, an entomologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Cox-Foster is leading a team of researchers who are trying to find answers to explain “colony collapse disorder,” the name given for the disappearing bee syndrome.