CNN BREAKING NEWS: The buzz is gone away as apian debacle decimates honey production

I could tell something was terribly wrong when I saw Stew’s and Felix’ long faces, behind the protective hoods they wear when handling our beehives, as they returned from collecting the honey panels from the beehives.

“A real disaster,” said Stew, in his usual understated manner. “We barely got half a bucketful of honey.”

Except this time he was not exaggerating. After dismantling all three of our beehives, he and Félix could extract only three gallons of honey, compared to 15 or so a few years back. So we ended up with 15 jelly jars of honey, instead of 60 or 70.

For some reason, this year’s honey turned out darker than usual.

While they were in the garage during this operation, the dogs and I were safely hiding in the kitchen running about 20 glass jelly jars through the dishwasher, that we hoped would be filled with honey, ahead of 30 or 40 more stored in the basement.

During the five or six years we’ve been operating our honey business, we’ve used a unique business plan, according to which Stew and I eat all the expenses and Felix gets all the profits.

Not surprisingly, Félix liked this sweet arrangement, that in a banner year, could bring him as much as $5000 pesos.

He particularly liked that we did all the marketing legwork, instead of him sitting by the side of the road, looking forlorn, with a handmade sign hawking honey for sale, or having to run up to gringo strangers on the street, waving a jar of honey.

Our most productive outlet has been San Miguel’s Unitarian Church. Unitarians are soft-hearted, health-conscious folks who slurped up the heart-rending, and true, story of poor campo-boy Félix bottling organic, non-adulterated honey—rumored to help cure everything from baldness to flat feet—in order to raise some extra pesos for him and his family. Sigh.

But then, last year, one sticky-fingered Unitarian walked off with a shopping bag containing about a dozen jars of our honey. Dismayed by this bit of larceny, the only thing we could do was hope that this dastardly criminal at least sold the honey and gave the proceeds to homeless Honduran migrants, impoverished Mexican children learning to play the piano, or some similar Unitarian cause.

This year, however, there won’t be any honey for sale.

What caused this apian apocalypse is anyone’s guess. It could be climate change—which nowadays is blamed for just about anything that goes awry in the world—or Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of her damn emails.

A more real problem might have been poor maintenance of the beehives. One of them was rotted and in very bad condition, and one other abandoned, probably because the queen bee died or moved elsewhere.

Nicotine-based pesticides have been blamed for a precipitous drop in bee populations in the U.S., known as colony collapse, but I don’t think that has affected us down here.

This year, though, there was a plague of grasshoppers, that munched on the vegetation, including flowers.

I thought of angrily spraying insecticide all over the place, but Félix—always the clever one—pointed out that strategy might poison the bees too, or the flowers they nibbled on.

So Stew and Félix now are talking about scaling back our apiculture operations and getting rid of the hive in the worst condition, and refurbishing the other two with new queens and a new colonies of bees. We also pray for flash freeze that fries the grasshoppers.

But we can’t buy new queens or worker bees, from suppliers in Morelia or Aguascalientes, until early next year. So for the time being all we can do is wait, and ration the amount of honey we put on our cereal for breakfast. Maybe give away a couple of jars to friends—really good friends.

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