FIVETHIRTYEIGHT’s “Beekeepers”

Still from 'Beekeepers,' a short film from FiveThirtyEightStill from “Beekeepers” by FiveThirtyEight

Here at Groennfell Meadery, there’s one thing we can’t get enough of: data.[1] We love data. We also love bees.[2] Thus, it stands to reason that we love data about bees. Lucky for us, we just discovered a great short film, “Beekeepers,” part of FiveThirtyEight’s “Collectors” series.

This seven-minute film focuses on honeybees, their keepers, and the ongoing struggle to keep bee colonies from collapsing. You should really just go watch the video, but we understand the TL;DW lifestyle, so here’s a quick recap:

Even if your livelihood doesn’t depend directly upon the survival of bees, you can thank them for about one out of every three bites of food you eat. The 2.5 million colonies of bees in the United States produce $18 billion worth of crops each year.

Recently, 30% of bee colonies have been dying each winter and a total of 50% over the course of the year. With rates of collapse that high, scientists are working hard to figure out the cause. While people tend to jump to the “it must be pesticides” conclusion, one of the biggest culprits is, in fact, the Varroa Mite. These parasitic “vampire mites” suck the blood of honeybees, infect them with many different viruses, and weaken the bees’ immune systems.

Just 2,000 mites can destroy a colony of 30,000 bees within a year.

Entomologist Dennis vanEngelsdorp explains in the film how he and other scientists are working to provide beekeepers with information about their colonies’ health by sampling the population and determining how many mites have infiltrated each colony.

Even if you read all the way to here, just go watch the film.


[1] Ok, there’s definitely more than one thing we can’t get enough of, like that video of Ricky opening a bottle of mead with his bull-whip.
[2] And not just because we very much need bees to keep making mead.


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