Honeybees Don’t Need Saving, I Learned When They Invaded My House

Honeybees Don’t Need Saving, I Learned When They Invaded My House

By Oghale Apr30,2024

I considered buying a can of Raid, but I felt too guilty. I had a vague sense that honeybees needed saving, and some of my neighbors felt strongly about the issue. “They are so important to our ecosystem,” one neighbor advised on WhatsApp. “Their number is dwindling.” She suggested we call a beekeeper.

So we tried the swarm squad, a volunteer group of beekeepers who will collect wayward colonies. Unfortunately, the squad generally only deals with outdoor hives. A representative recommended a dozen other beekeepers with indoor expertise.

Every one of them told me the same thing: Our problem was too small.

When a colony is looking for a new home, it sends out a few hundred “scouts” to find options, each visiting 10 to 20 possible locations. When a scout likes a place, it returns to the hive and performs a “waggle” dance that tells its brethren exactly how far and in what direction they need to travel to find the potential home. The more vigorous the dance, the more a scout likes the location. Eventually, the thousands of hive dwellers vote on which place they like best.

Apparently, scouts were sizing up our home. To us, they were plenty alarming on their own. But the beekeepers reassured us that they were unlikely to sting; they didn’t have a hive or queen to defend. Call us back, they said, when you see a few thousand bees.

There was little else to do but wait and see if the colony would choose us. I repacked our suitcase for another night away. Maybe this was my family’s small contribution to saving an imperiled species, I thought.

What I wish I had known then: Honeybees do not need saving.

The same week that the bees turned up at my house, the journalist Bryan Walsh revisited a 2013 cover story for Time magazine in which he had lamented a future “world without bees.” Looking back, he said, the article didn’t hold up.

“A lot of the coverage at the height of the beepocalypse fears — my story included — used the mass death of honeybees as a symbol of how human beings had pulled nature out of whack,” Mr. Walsh wrote in a new essay in Vox. “But it’s not.”

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By Oghale

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