|Carpenter bee, Credit: Sandra Rehan|
A first-grade field trip to one of the top-ten U.S. zoos led us to a prehistoric bee display. It was much bigger than my little fist. It was like a radish on top of turnip but dark brown with faded yellow stripes and fuzzy tarantula legs. It was so horrifying to think of encountering a giant killer bee with a 4-inch stinger during the time that dinosaurs roamed. What a first-grader wouldn't realize is that the display would have been a model, as there is a poor fossil record for bees, making it difficult to pin down the wipe-out of their ancestors.
What happened to those guys?
A fascinating new discovery about bees in prehistoric times actually sheds a lot of light on our current situation with massive bee die-off and colony collapse disorder. A vast majority of people are still under the impression that it will simply resolve itself; but really, we might be on the brink of an endangered era with already visible impact. Even an endangered classification for bees today would mean major ecological devastation.