A journalist’s bumble
I was scanning my news feed yesterday when I saw an interesting headline, “The Most Fascinating Facts About Mason Bees.” I eagerly clicked on the link, thinking I might learn something.
Just below the headline of the article was a gorgeous photo of a big fat bumble bee. Okay, I’m willing to play along. Maybe this article is going to reveal some mysterious bumble-mason connection. So I begin to read.
Long about the third paragraph, the author writes, “While honey bees tend to get all the headlines regarding colony collapse disorder . . . mason bees are also heavily affected by CCD.” The article says nothing more on this subject, and I am left wondering how a creature that doesn’t live in a colony can get colony collapse disorder. It’s like my dog contracting deformed wing virus.
To make things worse, he then writes, “Mason bees are super cute—just look at that photo above and tell me I’m wrong.” When I return to the aforementioned photo, I still see a big fat bumble bee. Am I missing something here?
More puzzling still is that partway through the article there is a photo of an actual orchard mason bee. A quick glance between the two photos reveals that the two insects look nothing alike.
Next he explains that mason bees are solitary and every female is a queen. Well, I disagree with that too. The word “queen” is generally reserved for the dominant reproductive female in a colony of a eusocial bees. A queen needs subjects—or at least workers—so a queen occurs when you have more than one caste of females. Honey bees have queens, bumble bees have queens, but female solitary bees are just females.
I’m not trying to embarrass the guy, so I won’t publish a link. But please, when you want to learn about bees—or anything else—consider the source. Not every journalist is a bee expertsome just bumble along.