Marketers discover bees . . . pleased they’re not as “extreme” as goats.

Buzz the Bee is brushing up on his surfing skills. We know that because Buzz is shown ready to hang 10 with an attractive blonde human in an Instagram #selfie. He’s also in the mood to #beelax, a popular hashtag on his Twitter account,
@buzzthebee. Buzz recently had the great fortune to catch an extra ride on a roller coaster. We can watch him loop-de-loop on his Vine collection. Best of all, Buzz gets to chill with the rapper Nelly, helping her change the lyric “must be the money” to his favored line, “must be the honey,” also deeply hashtagged on Twitter.

Buzz is the animated mascot for Honey Nut Cheerios, just one of many brands using honey, bees, and their cheerful connotations to sell everything from Marc Jacobs cologne to Jack Daniels liquor (“Its taste is honey. Its soul is Jack”).

Suffice it to say, honey is hot. Like olive oil and cheese, honey’s homely cred has risen—at least with marketers. In an October 2013 New York Times article, the editor in chief of the Food Network summed the trend up neatly: “It’s got a great cool factor. It’s not as extreme as raising goats.”

Good thing that high-fructose corn sugar can be made to taste like honey because, for all the popularity the sweet stuff is suddenly enjoying, it’s getting harder to come by. Blame the bees. Because while Buzz is surfing and beelaxing and rapping and loop-de-looping, actual bees are dying.

Colony Collapse Disorder, an as-yet undefined phenomenon that probably combines pesticide ingestion with mites with fungus with introduction of foreign species, is killing our nation’s honey bees.

In Sonoma County, that threat is coupled with drought. Our apiary production fell nearly 15 percent from 2011 to 2012.

How to help the bees? Plant, expand, reduce—and personal responsibility.

“It lies largely with the consumers,” says Kathy Kellison, the outreach coordinator for Partners for Sustainable Pollination (PFSP), an organization based in Santa Rosa.

“Consumers have to understand that they have to support food-production practices that are more environmentally sound and sustainable by helping farmers who are willing to transition away from large monoculture. We have 97 million acres of corn, just corn, in the U.S.”

Not aided by bats, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, or bees, corn stalks pollinate each other with wind.

“Diversifying farms so that there are different sources of pollen and more sustainable practices that transition away from the use of pesticides is another way,” Kellison says. “That’s why we initiated bee-friendly farming: to help consumers recognize growers who are using part of their working land to plant different kinds of pollen- and nectar-producing plants to nourish bees.”

Bee-friendly farms go through a certification process with PFSP to ensure that they’re doing what they can to encourage bee health on their land. Some 250 producers have been certified nationally since the program launched three years ago.

In the winter, beehive populations drop significantly. A typical hive might have 60,000-80,000 bees in the summer months and 20,000-30,000 in the winter. During the cold months, bees huddle in a near-hibernation state; their massing ensures the inside temperature of the hive remains at around 93 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the bees rest, we can plan to help them. has a terrific download for gardeners to use, based on zip code, to plant more fully for pollinators.

Perhaps then, we too can beelax.

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