Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I don’t know how many of you have read a children’s book featuring the Berenstain Bears called the Big Honey Hunt. It features hapless Dad, enthusiastic son and long suffering Mum all chasing a bee – a generally fruitless endeavour. A familiar sensation as we struggled to find and film a brave bumble amongst today’s hailstorms and thunder claps.

We are investigating the possible link between pesticides and dropping bee populations and have uncovered some striking new work at a UK University. They’ve tagged nearly one thousand bees with radio frequency id tags – equipping each bee with its own one millimetre square swipe card. So when they fly off to forage, in the words of the great Brian Hanrahan, ‘they can count them all out and count them back’ and the ones who’ve ingested a pesticide cocktail appear less likely to return – Missing in Action. Seeing them in the lab was easy and I got to try my shakey hand at super-gluing the tiny tags on their furry backs. It’s brilliant bench science with a whiff of Wallace and Gromit – not in the sense of being amateurish but rather the use of ingenious practical wit. The pesticide makers insist these laboratory linked experiments do not accurately mimic a bees exposure to the toxin in the real world.

Back beside the damp blackthorn hedge, one of our enthusiastic bee spotters did eventually spy a little blighter and we ran back to see a fuzzy speck high up in some neighbouring cherry blossom. You’ll catch it on the show – if you don’t blink.

CountryFile Sunday 6 May BBC1 6.15pm

No comments:

Post a Comment