Friday, May 04, 2007

Where Are the Bees?

May 4, 2007

Today, as I sit sipping my cup of tea, looking out the window at the green lushness - after all this rain - that is our organic, pesticide-free, herbicide-free, backyard , I see our cliff covered with blooming white star jasmine (trachelospermum jasminoides) framed by the red-orange blossoms of our pomegranate (punica granatum) bushes So lovely.

Then, I get one of those prickly feelings on the back of my neck. Such a lovely scene, but something is wrong. I open the door and walk close to the abundance of jasmine blooms. The musky scent is lovely - not as intense as prior years. Did the rain have something to do with that?

Then I notice: nothing is moving. I stare at the jasmine blossoms. I concentrate, looking for a sign of movement. Finally, about 2 feet above my head, I see a blossom move. A small yellow jacket comes into view. A little higher up, I notice a short, fat, dark insect land on a blossom. A bee? No, a huge horse fly. I walk around a bushy crepe myrtle (lagerstroemia indica), not yet blooming, hoping to see bees feasting on all this abundant jasmine and pomegranate pollen. A small moth dangles from a jasmine blossom. That's it. Three flying insects in a large yard filled with beautiful, scented, pollen-laden blossoms.

I look at the eaves overhanging our back door - for decades the Springtime homes of dirt-dobbler wasps and paper wasps. No homes, no wasp activity.

I have been reading about the honey bee die-off. Colony collapse disorder (CCD), it's called. I have read that CCD is affecting not only honey-bees, but wasps and Bumble bees; not only all across the
USA, but in Canada, Europe, and South America, as well. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants, and the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of that pollination.

I am alarmed. If you are seeing bees in your yard, I would like to know about it. Kind of a neighborhood bee watch.

Here are some websites if you would like more information about the honey bee die-off.