Thursday, November 13, 2014


We used to kill honeybees here. There'd be dozens every day. It's not like we'd do it on purpose. Our favorite rec center has an open air pool and they would come in to land on the water or crawl down the walls from the floor to the water. Many of them would never make it back out. By the time we were swimming after I was done with work, there would be maybe a dozen dead ones floating on the water. Very rarely one would still be alive and I could scoop it up in a handful of water and set it on the side of the pool to dry up and leave, if it still could. Perhaps the night cleaning staff would just step on it or sweep it into the trash instead if it was too dark to fly, but I tried.

There haven't been bees this fall. Tiny flies or gnats show up, floating on the surface. So it's still a trap. But there haven't been honeybees.

There might be innocent explanations. It was a wet summer, and there have been an abundance of flowers everywhere. It is possible they haven't needed a water source with all the nectar in the flowers. Then again, I haven't seen bees near our back yard's assortment of flowers. There have been flies and mosquitoes, butterflies  both familiar and alien, the latter being represented by a huge yellow and black one which flutters its fore wings while holding the back ones folded over its back as it drinks from each flower on the Mexican Bird of Paradise. One could almost think it a tiger swallowtail but for the lack of tails and the weird fluttering, and from a distance it seems larger than a swallowtail. No bees.

It might be that colony collapse disorder has hit here. We haven't caught any local news on the topic, not being here for months, to hear if it's been an issue in this area. I have been hearing about it in Minnesota. I do know that our two mature apple trees produced a total of two apples from the loads of blossoms  they flaunted last spring, though the cold wet spring was at least partly responsible for keeping existing bees hivebound. It wasn't, however, cold or wet in The Valley last spring: quite the opposite.

What I do know for sure is that we used to kill honeybees in the pool. But not this fall.

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