So, my neighbor dropped by yesterday to wish Regina well--thanks Dave. After chatting for a while about this and that, conversation turned doomish, and he beat me to the question that I was going to drop on him--Where the frack are all the bees?
Now, Dave was a wildlife cop for a good long while, and when he notices something awry in our ecosystem, I take it pretty seriously. Especially since this is one of those environmental issues that doesn't lend itself to a lot of nay-saying or denialism. The bees...Are...Gone. Big ol' apple tree full of blossoms right next to the garden--warm, sunny Spring day the blooms should be crawling with honeybees. And not just honeybees, says Dave, but bumblebees, those tiny black bees (sweat bees I think people call them), and several other species of bees that are all heavy-hitters in the pollination game. Except for two bumblebees, the tree was empty.
Just three years ago, Spring brought the bees out in full force at Pen and Plow Farm. Every dandelion, every daffodil, and every fruit tree hosted some kind of bee pretty much non-stop. Then, two years ago, it seemed like I was witnessing some kind of decline, but with Colony Collapse Disorder beginning to make news, I wasn't sure if my observations were affected by the information coming in. Last year I had no doubt--the bees, especially the honeybees, were on a rapid decline. I was starting to get nervous.
This year, I'm positively spooked. I wasn't able to attend the screening of "Vanishing of the Bees" at Pothole Pictures in Shelburne Falls last month, but I didn't have to in order to know that the issue is "find out what the frack is happening and fix it, fast."
I'm taking matters into my own hands post haste. I placed an order for a "nuc" of bees back in early March from White Oak Apiary. A nuc is a nucleus of a colony that includes the queen, eggs, larvae, workers, and drones packaged up in five frames that you just drop into an empty bee hive.
See, I've got about 400 strawberry plants that are coming online this year, and there's no way in hell I want to miss out on that bounty. Not to mention all the other crops that depend on bees for pollination. I won't be able to harvest the honey until next year (the bees have to spend all their energy building up their colony and making honey comb) but I can wait until next year on that.
We'll see how it goes!