(11 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
The bees come up from the apple orchard next door to die on our porch, as if they were simply exhausted from being whisked around from farm to farm as slaves to our surplus feeding habits. Animals without choice sometimes simply choose to die. I’d bet bees have “feelings” somewhere inside their little buzzing mammillary bodies. Maybe they just can’t hack it anymore.
My understanding is that they’re eusocial, but vote individually on where to feed based on who makes the best sexy waggle dance symbolizing food direction and quality, and have bee quorums concerning when and where to move the hive. Elections have consequences, as they say, so they are rather “picky” in their own little individual and species-specific manners.
We humans feel a need to enslave everything, from ourselves to mackerel to feed the formerly-wild salmon now bred in large ocean nets to friggin’ anti-biotic-resistant bacterial plasmids to run off our hot RNA strands for in situ sense and non-sense, and other sexy gene-jock what-not. Yes, we purposely create anti-biotic resistant bacteria as slaves. Please don’t forget to flame the lip of that beaker when you’re finished with that batch! Thanks! Wouldn’t want those little E. coli republicans to escape just any non-containment facility.
Where wuz I? Ah, yes, choice.
The Lockean ideal of enslaving the entire planet to private industrial property strikes me as probably the worst idea springing forth from the so-called Enlightenment. Killer whales aren’t that stupid, and drown their trainers in their pathetic enclosures for a reason. You don’t have to be a free-marketeer, or a free-willer, or free-Willy to believe in some value in exhibiting freedom of choice, whether amongst ourselves or our phylogenetic brethren. By now, we also understand enough about the potential excesses in the deep recesses of the ventral tegmental area, that reticular core of the brain bathing in gambling addiction, sex, drug abuse, etc., to say that free choice amongst addicts should not include being allowed to enslave the entire biological entity known as “the planet” solely in order to make more profits.
Barring “free-choice” among greed addicts for starters, here’s a little, mildly astonishing illustration of freedom’s benefits.
We ran a bunch of studies showing that high-sucrose and/or high fat diets reduced animal’s stress responses. We colloquially called high-energy diets “comfort food,” but there were a fair number of studies showing the opposite effect, as well, that high-energy diets were stress-enhancers. After taking a closer look, it seemed to us that the main difference between our studies and others was the fact that we let our animals have free choice, non-forced diets whereas others used some forced aspect to the diets, e.g., direct lipid infusions, having fat mixed directly into chow, etc.
Suzanne la Fleur, an extremely competent and trustworthy neuro-endo, did the obvious comparison between rats that got forced diets, i.e., some proportion of fat mixed directly into their chow, and another group that ate laissez faire, quasi-cafeteria style, with the chow and lard being available in separate cups; they mixed their own diets; plus a chow-only control. The four groups were a “chow” only control, No Choice (20% fat), No Choice (50% fat), and a Choice group that ate 50% of its diet in fat (lard) freely. (You can thank Endocrinology for not making us pay for research we already paid for):
Graph “A” above shows the ACTH response to a brief restraint stress. The take home is that only the free-choice lard-eaters showed a substantially blunted stress response, despite the fact that the No Choice group also consumed the exact same amount of lard. “Comfort food” only works when you are doing it to yourself, so it’s not merely a physiological caloric inhibitory feedback on stress; it has a dramatic psychological component. Agency, or as Spaulding Gray might have said, “I am the one who is doing this,” matters.
The Marines down at Gitmo prolly think it’s nifty or “mighty white” of them to omit force-feedings of their Muslim brethren during Ramadan, but I think their cutting edge psychologists are not as sharp as they think. Perhaps they missed the point of Ramadan entirely.
I know there are differing theories on colony collapse, and I’m no bee-keeper (yet), but I do wonder what the shipped-in orchard bees think when they see the white house on the ridge and say, “I’m going up there to find a drink of water, suck on a clover, or two, and rest for a while,” having barely the strength to die; if the constant stress of agricultural slavery and forced-feedings is not compromising their immunocompetency or “will” to live. Maybe whisking them from monoculture apples to oranges to melons to almonds isn’t on their menu; maybe they need to feed upon what they want, when they want. Maybe we’d all do better if bees were “wilder at heart.”
In any case, we need to find out why the bees are dying.