Friday 17 August 2012

The Honey Trap


I read in one of Carl Sagan's books about a certain episode in 19th Century England. Beekeepers suddenly had a massive drop in their honey collections. So major was this problem that they finally got together and called in a biologist, a man called Charles Darwin (maybe some of you may vaguely recall having heard of him).

This Darwin studied the situation and told the beekeepers that to remedy the situation they must...get more cats.

The 'keepers, fortunately, had the faith in science to accept this bizarre suggestion and acquired cats in greater numbers, after which the honey yield went right back up again.

Here's how it worked. The bees fed primarily on the nectar of clover growing in the fields. A population of field mice also ate the clover. Now the field mice were going through a population explosion and gobbling up all the clover. Result - no nectar left over for the bees.

Now, imagine this happened in India, now, today. Let's see the likely scenario:

1. Honey yields fall drastically.

2. Beekeepers get together and hold a special prayer to the honey gods, and sacrifice a barrel of honey to him/her. TV cameras and the print media are invited to watch.

3. Local politicians claim that this is because of  the "stepmotherly attitude" of the Central government towards the beekeepers. They demand adequate compensation.

4. Beekeepers call a strike and attack government offices. A far-right wing organisation adopts the agitation as its own and says that the beekeepers' problems are caused by those speaking other languages or professing other beliefs.

5. A nationally famous Feng Shui expert advises the beekeepers to arrange their beehives in particular patterns and to arrange for flowing water in the east of their apiaries, while any tree that grows in the south-western corner must be removed. An astrologer asks the beekeepers to add extra vowels to their names.

6. The unelected, so-called prime minister visits the beekeepers and makes a speech about the absolute necessity of economic "reforms" and a 10% growth rate.

7. India wins a minor cricket match. The media go ape.

8. As a "temporary relief measure," the government decides to purchase honey from abroad at three times the price it is willing to pay local beekeepers. Major economists strongly support this decision.

9.  A beekeeper commits suicide. The media shows some mild interest.

10. A major, overhyped Bollywood film is released. The media have nothing else to talk about.

11. The rats outrun their food supply and their population levels fall. As time goes by the honey yield picks up.

12. The astrologer and the Feng Shui expert fall over themselves taking credit, but whine that nobody listens.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, if only they had got some cats. Well, I must confess here, I am a cat lover. And not just good old house cats either, ALL cats, with tigers being my absolute favorites. Mr. Attenborough narrated a very good mini-series about a family of tigers, the mama had four cubs, in India. It was in one of the preserves in your country. They used innovative techniques with cameras hidden in fake logs and fake tree trunks, some of which were self mobile. They were put in place by elephants and some cameras were also carried in fake wood like tree bits by the elephants on their tusks. Yes, they called them "tusk cameras". It was a good little series that followed this tiger family over a number of years, from the birth of the cubs (well shorty after birth) until they were old enough to strike out on their own to find their own territories, hopefully within the preserve as they would face many extra dangers if they ever venture outside this protected area.
    Yes, I DO know that tigers, like ALL big cats, can be very dangerous to people, but they ARE such beautiful animals they must be allowed to live their lives on this planet. So many large cats are highly endangered these days from hunting, illegal poaching, etc.. I respect ALL life, how does that square with my atheism? Well, in my opinion, my atheism does not make any difference in my respect for ALL life. How many religious clowns even try, really try to do the same? NO, I am not feeling the least bit smug about this at all, just asking a serious question. Maybe because I have seen humanity at its worst, war, up close and all too personal, that I have come to believe that ALL life is sacred, yes, even snakes, they have their place in this world, just not IN my home thank you.
    Oh man, I went on another long rambling rant again, didn't I? I apologize for the length of this comment Bill, honestly I do.
    Thank you for this post Bill my friend.


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