There’s still not really a consensus on what the cause behind Colony Collapse Disorder is, but I posit one unlikely theory in today’s comic. We’ve all heard about this issue by now, right? It seems like it’s gotten some more mainstream attention in the last few years, and hopefully that will lead to some research that will get this problem all figured out.

In brief, “Colony Collapse Disorder” is a term for when the adult workers of a hive mostly abandon a hive for no apparent reason. It becomes something of a ghost ship: young bees are still maturing in their cells, the queen is hanging out, and there’s no evidence of an unusual number of dead bees or anything, but there’s too few workers for the colony to survive through the winter. Theories abound as to why this happens: is it a consequence of some sort of disease carrying mite? A fungus? A side-effect of an industrial chemical? Since the cause seems so difficult to pin down, I suspect it’s probably a variety of factors, rather than just one neat-and-tidy problem that can be fixed with a neat-and-tidy fix.

Since bees have often been used as an allegory to reflect human workers through the centuries, it seems somewhat interesting that the 21st century has been a time of crisis for them, just as it has been for many American workers. I was watching Koyaanisqatsi a couple months ago, and I was actually kind of shocked to see that the film featured (presumably) American factories circa 1982 making, of all things, electronics– televisions, specifically. I think we’re so used to the notional “vaguely overseas electronics factory,” we’ve forgotten that we used to make things like that here too. Anyway, is this kind of globalization good for the economy? Bad for the economy? Good or bad for people at the human level? It’s hard to say, and I could probably spend all day writing incoherently about it, but I’m not sure you’d want to read such ramblings.