The 13 Bees of Christmas

Beleagured researchers honor the honeybee in a rewrite of the 12 Days Of Christmas.

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It was another bad year for the little honeybee, with the Agriculture Department revealing that the numbers killed in 2010 topped 2009.But researchers believe they are closer to finding a cause for many of the mysterious bee deaths and those at the University of California-Davis even turned to song to herald the little bug. Our friend Kim Flottum, the editor of Bee Culture, the industry magazine, received a note from the researchers about how they reworked the holiday fave, "The 12 Days of Christmas" to include the honeybee.Considering all the bad news in the bee industry, Flottum says he was happy to feature an upbeat Christmas story. "This was a fun piece to do, for a change."Here's what he sent us:From Bee Culture magazine's Bee Buzz:Forget "The 12 Days of Christmas." It's "The 13 Bugs of Christmas."The Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, came up with a song at its annual holiday party that drew roaring applause-and attention to bugs that either please or plague people.The song, written by honey bee specialist Eric Mussen and communications specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey, included a psyllid in a pear tree, six lice a'laying, 10 locusts leaping and 11 queen bees piping."We attempted to keep the wording as close as possible for 'The 12 Bugs of Christmas' and then we opted to spotlight some new agricultural pests in the next stanza," said Mussen, an extension apiculturist and member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1976.The song:
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a psyllid in a pear tree.On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, two tortoises beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six lice a'laying, five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven boatmen swimming, six lice a'laying, five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me eight ants a'milking, seven boatmen swimming, six lice a'laying, five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me nine mayflies dancing, eight ants a'milking, seven boatmen swimming, six lice a'laying, five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 10 locusts leaping, nine mayflies dancing, eight ants a'milking, seven boatmen swimming, six lice a'laying, five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the 11th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 11 queen bees piping, 10 locusts leaping, nine mayflies dancing, eight ants a'milking, seven boatmen swimming, six lice a'laying, five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeOn the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me 12 deathwatch beetles drumming, 11 queen bees piping, 10 locusts leaping, nine mayflies dancing, eight ants a'milking, seven boatmen swimming, six lice a'laying, five golden bees, four calling cicadas, three French flies, two tortoise beetles and a psyllid in a pear treeKnowing the agony that Californians experience with the seemingly unending flood of pests, Mussen felt it "bugworthy" to add this verse: