10 October 2013

Oil and Honey: Like Bees in Autumn

Beeyard Report & Book Review
The bees know when fall arrives. On the 20th of September the bee yard was full of buzz – a photo can’t capture the smell of honey, the flight of thousands of pairs of golden wings, the need to bring in food before winter comes.
Now at mid-day the workers go foraging and return loaded with bright yellow pollen that winks in the dark as the bees enter the hives. Pulling a feeder in garden gloves I took a sting to my finger -- the bees are irritable and protective in this chill.

Bill McKibben’s new book Oil and Honey captures a different urgency; to create a movement that can stop the Keystone XL pipeline, protect our atmosphere and climate, and force politicians and corporations to consider more than their own short-term interest. 
It’s a memoir of recent events, from the creation of 350.org in 2006 to last year’s national bus tour that kicked off in Seattle the night after President Obama was re-elected. The excitement of movement-building creates tension in counterpoint to the peace of a neighbor’s honey-house. Hurricanes flood Vermont Valleys and the New York subway system, even as the Occupy movement and the 350 demonstrators find their strength.

Now that the entire nation has a front in the Extreme Energy wars, we struggle to block coal ports on the west coast, mines in Montana, tar sands oil pipelines through Texas, and fracking in Pennsylvania. Beekeepers do what they can to keep hives going despite parasites, pesticides, poisons in GE pollen, and violent weather. 
The urgency of bees in autumn brings in the food before the cold and dark descend. Our urgency is to protect what’s left, to stop dumping carbon into the atmosphere before we precipitate climate changes that will make civilization (maybe human life) impossible to maintain. 
Of course, we may have already passed the point of no return. With six hives to watch over, I’m hoping that some will make it to spring.