A splash of humor, a dash of cynicism, and a twist of skepticism

james poyner

james poyner
Summit, New Jersey,
May 14
A former journalist and stock analyst, I now do custom cabinetry and photography. I also occasionally vent verbally, a throwback to days in the newsroom.


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Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 8, 2009 12:21PM

The Attack of the Killer Bees

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Well, I don’t know if the ASPCA includes bees on its list of critters to protect; but something has to be done. If we can tear Sally Strothers away from her triple-cheese Whopper, she should do a TV commercial to raise funds to save the bees:


 “Won’t some of you reach out to help these cute, helpless little creatures that only live to ensure crop propagation and make everyone’s favorite sweetener, honey? With your $25 donation to Save the Bees, you’ll get a picture of an actual bee to cherish plus your very own copy of Bee Movie. Time is running out! (A close-up of Strothers slurping from a jar of honey and sobbing  as “Flight of the Bumble Bees” underscore rises with fade to black screen showing toll-free number to call: 1-800-Free Bee.)



Photo by James Poyner 

What’s all the fuss? Doubtless you’ve been hearing the buzz about the recent article in the NYT that details how mad scientists at an Australian university are subjecting bees in captivity to doses of cocaine in an effort to learn more about the effect of drug abuse on the human brain. Here’s what they’ve learned so far: Cocaine alters bees' normally staid, logical judgment, making them enthusiastic about things that wouldn’t otherwise excite them. Under the influence, bees will go for just any ol’ pollen: ragweed, goldenrod, whatever. Cocaine makes them dance more frequently: Near riots are occurring at bee discos as hoards clamor to get in, stirring concern among local fire marshals. Also, bees suffer withdrawal symptoms when the drug is denied them: Their sense of smell gets screwed up, causing them to ignore nectar and, as a consequence, lose enough weight to make their stripes sag on their deflated posteriors. However, they become great friends with Nicole Richie.


Good thing they stopped the presses for these findings! Who would’ve thunk it?


At least this study is occurring in Australia. I’d hate to think that American universities are wasting their resources on such aimless science. But it may explain the disappearance of entire bee colonies in recent years from bee farmers’ hives. One can now imagine Aussies, dressed like ninjas and under cover of darkness, sneaking in and beenapping for their own nefarious purposes. I can only hope that the newly inaugurated Obama administration will launch a task force to investigate and that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will have harsh words for Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, suggesting that if such treatment of bees does not stop kangaroos just may find themselves back in the boxing ring in America.


What is puzzling about the article is that it doesn’t make clear why the scientists think bees are anything like human beings. True, they both tend to like honey; and both can fly. But horizontal stripes generally look really bad on humans, as the old sketches with John Belushi on “Saturday Night Live” prove. And bees are much more civil in crowded conditions as any trip on the NY subway proves. Still, both attack when provoked; and both have been known to acquiesce to queens.


Somehow, though, I can’t believe the study is anything but an excuse for the scientists to keep cocaine on campus, even though one of the researchers claims it’s kept in a safe bolted to a concrete floor in a room with a combination lock known only to officials in the school’s ethics department.


Rather than snort the happy dust through rolled up $100 bills, the bees ingest the cocaine when the researchers put a drop of the dissolved drug on their backs, absorbing the liquid into their circulatory systems. This may be more awkward, but the bees don’t have to worry about embarrassing telltale white marks on their probiscuses.


So I guess the lesson learned by this exercise is that a coked-up bee is about as useless as a coked-up human being. Only now we may have unleashed a wave of fly-by shootings as bees move to ensure a steady supply of the addictive powder.


 Just what the world needs: a surly bee packing a 9mm. 

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