I’m allergic to bees, once stung my adjoining body part balloons into a hot highly tensile, ready to burst, impersonation of Quasimodo.
So, for a very long time whenever a bee crossed my path, I’d run screaming around in circles swatting the air, and cowering in the wake of its flight path, heart hammering, forehead sweating, oblivious to the sniggers and stares of those around me.
During the past week International Bee Day was celebrated, to bring focus and attention to the “plight of the bumblebee” which are dying by the millions, around the world, due to the use of insecticides and pesticides sprayed on plant food sources for us and them.
Knowing how important bees are, they pollinate one third of the plants we eat, and how disadvantaged the world would be if they were to disappear.
Now, when I see a bee, I’m like, “Hey little guy, how’re you doing? Do you need water? Want to take a rest? Borrow the car?”
The by-product of a bee’s life work is honey.
It has been a valued source of nourishment and medicinal value since before Christ was a baby.
Honey is the only food that contains all the substances necessary to sustain life, it never goes bad and it has antibiotic properties.
The New Zealand Manuka Honey industry has created a profitable niche market and high profile that people pay handsomely for and demand is strong.
We could create something similar in the Cook Islands.
There are pockets of people focused on raising bee hives on the islands and developing a business.
Recently, I saw advertised the sale of hives and a job description to become a beekeeper.
Asking, I found out some interesting facts about the honey bee - 80,000 bees can live under one roof and 10 million pollen trips make one jar of honey.
One hive can produce one litre of honey per week.
A queen bee can lay 2000 eggs per day, bees dance a “waggle dance” to show where to find food, a slow dance for food far away and a fast hip hop for quality food close by.
Like humans, bees need five to eight hours sleep and can’t function without it.
Some plants drug their nectar with caffeine and nicotine to keep the bees coming back.
A bee can travel two to five kilometres from a hive in the search of flowers to extract the pollen.
We could easily house hives on residential plots, or larger hive resorts on vacant, noni growing, or agriculture planted land, around the island, so they could pop in for a rest and move on.
Youtube shows ways to create little bee hotels from sticks and tubes they can rest in, and how to create safe watering holes for bees to drink from, so they don’t drown in swimming pools.
Imagine eating honey made from our beautiful and sweet tropical flowers, hibiscus, tipani and tiare maori.
As the road works replace water pipes and widen the roads, many hedges have to be replanted.
We could be adding flower cuttings, like hibiscus amongst the standard green, fast, growing foliage commonly used.
This would create a beautiful roadside display, plus encourage and support larger bee populations.
If the Agriculture ministry made a commitment to be more organic and use less harmful sprays and insecticides it would benefit our human and bee population.
Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute could run courses to qualify unemployed into a new diverse job or business.
Albert Einstein said if the bee disappeared off the face of the globe, then man would only have four years to live.
No bees, no pollination, no more plants, no more animals and no more humans.