Radio listener with Jim Gilchrist: On the trail of the American Honeybee

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THINGS are buzzing on Radio 4 in more ways than one as biologist Dr Adam Hart journeys ON THE TRAIL OF THE AMERICAN HONEYBEE, and finds himself witnessing the largest single pollination event on Earth.


Tuesday, Radio 4, 11am


Wednesday, Radio 4, 2:15pm


Tomorrow, BBC World Service, 2:05pm

Early every year, US beekeepers, their trailers laden with some 1.5 million hives, converge on California’s orchard-rich central Valley, where thousands of acres of almond trees are bursting into snow-white blossom. Their 30 billion bees are allowed to get busy in the orchards, which supply around 75 per cent of the world’s almonds.

After California, the nomadic apiculturists move on to the apple orchards of Washington State, the cranberry bogs of Maine and the citrus groves of Florida. It may sound arcane, but this industrial scale of beekeeping is an intensive and pressurised business, with keepers often being forced to split, or even annihilate, hives to encourage younger, more productive colonies – an act known, with grim irony, as “nuking the hive”.

And the buzz goes on in AFTERNOON DRAMA: THE MANHATTAN BEE TESTIMONIALS, based on Max Callaghan’s intriguing chronicle of how he investigated what seemed like an urban myth – the widespread rumours that there was a man living on Manhattan island who kept 250,000 bees in his apartment. Callaghan spent 15 years compiling an audio library of sometimes conflicting accounts of this elusive character, who is supposed to have cured a girl of meningitis by anonymously leaving a pot of remedial honey by her hospital bedside. This radio dramatisation includes New Yorkers’ own accounts, extracted from Callaghan’s archive.

Meanwhile, the swarms of cars on our roads seem bound inevitably for ultimate gridlock, with more than a billion in the world today and the possibility of four billion by 2050. In WHAT IF ... WE ALL HAD A CAR? Theo Leggett finds the numbers of cars in the world’s cities becoming unfeasible. He talks to designers planning for the future, and the man with the unenviable job of trying to keep Mumbai from grinding to a permanent halt.