Of Bees and Snakes and Snakes Don’t Make Honey

Martin Nowak

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Of Bees and Snakes and Snakes Don’t Make Honey

48 states have declared specific insects as “State Insects”.

https://www.si.edu/spotlight/buginfo/state-insects

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._state_insects

https://www.netstate.com/states/tables/state_insects.htm

It is paradoxical that the most common state insect is the European Honey Bee. States designating the honey bee as special include Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin.
In addition, some states have a designated “State Agricultural Insect”. These states include Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee. I may have missed a state or two, but readers get the drift.

Why the paradox? There is an inordinate and irrational focus on snakes and reptiles by state game and fish commissions and elected officials; when in fact, these same entities have chosen an invasive non-native animal to represent the states. The invasive honey bee is no longer just an agricultural enterprise. The European honey bee has established itself in most states in wild reproducing populations. The honey bee has displaced native pollinators and thereby caused certain, but not fully understood, disruptions in both the native flora and fauna chain. And, perhaps the most irrational component is that bees kill and harm far more humans each year than venomous snake bites in a decade.

Honey bee disruptions of native pollinators and harm to the environment:

“Keeping honey bees to ‘save the bees’ is like raising chickens to save birds.”
“While vital to agriculture and the economy, keeping honey bees is not wildlife conservation.”
https://www.nwf.org/Home/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2021/June-July/Gardening/Honey-Bees

“Thus, honey bee introductions may erode longstanding plant-pollinator mutualisms, with negative consequences for plant reproduction. “
https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ecy.3939

“Honey bees also destabilize natural ecosystems by competing with native bees—some of which are species at risk.”
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-problem-with-honey-bees/

Previously on 6-27-2023 in this Forum I noted that between 2013-2022 not a single reptile keeper died from non-native snake envenomation. There were 19 such bites recorded.

While one cannot separate honey bee stings from all Hymenoptera stings, the CDC indicates that from 2011 – 2021 approximately 788 deaths occurred from such stings. That would be 78 deaths per year.

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7227a6.htm

It is estimated that over 200,000 people require medical care for stings per year in the U.S. The medical costs for such care are enormous and far exceeds medical costs for snake envenomation treatment.

https://blog.gitnux.com/bee-sting-s... stings are a common,even death in some cases.

The same CDC source indicates 7,000 – 8,000 venomous snake bites per year in the U.S.; of which on average less than 5 deaths occur per year. Virtually all these bites and deaths do not occur to reptile keepers. The National Institutes of Health confirm the same data and conclusions.

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/snakes/default.html

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33046301/

It is important for those concerned about increasing regulation of the reptile keeper industry and hobby to be well informed about the “treatment” of all other fauna governed by the regulatory “experts”. Irrational statements and conclusions need to be exposed and refuted by science. Can logic prevail even with science, data, and facts?

Of course, snakes don’t make honey …….


P.s. perhaps someone will be motivated to post a thread about introduced non-native fish for recreational purposes. Some of which have become invasive; all of which have impact and imbalance on native fisheries and the food chain. Such introductions are by the various state’s game and fish commissions with governmental endorsement and authorization. Power companies in states often participate (even lead) in such non-native fish stocking.

P.s.p.s. perhaps someone will be motivated to post a thread about human deaths from cattle, horses, deer, and dogs.
 
“Keeping honey bees to ‘save the bees’ is like raising chickens to save birds.” Ha, ha. Love it!

The state insect of CT is also non-native (European mantis, Mantis religiosa), and five states list the non-native nuisance Coccinella septempunctata ladybird beetle as their state insect (DE, MA, NH, OH, TN).

A bit more than half the states have a state (non-avian) reptile, though about half of those are turtles (which are cuter than snakes, everyone knows this :D).

"human deaths from cattle, horses, deer, and dogs. " To be fair, I think distinguishing things that cause harm to innocent bystanders is worthwhile. I assume horses and cattle cause harm primarily to people who have consciously assumed risk in working with them (same as with captive venomous snakes, keepers of which should be allowed to get bitten if they want to take that risk), leaving aside workplace safety regulations. Otherwise there's reason to legally restrict, say, high sugar and high fat foods -- but there isn't since I choose to eat these foods and it is my body to do with as I like.

Dogs (and somewhat differently wild animals such as deer and bees/wasps) are different, since I don't agree to risk harm from those animals (I don't have a dog) but because they exist in places that I have a right to be, I'm exposed to risk. Laws for keeping potentially dangerous snakes and laws for keeping dogs and cats (which are similarly potentially dangerous) might be similar if they were based on consistent and relevant criteria.
 
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Florida's official state insect is the Zebra longwing butterfly.

But EVERYONE really knows it is unofficially the mosquito........
 
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