A Conversation About Bees

Newman / Physorg.com

When I first moved down to Florida everything moved my nature-loving soul.  Everything: the high white clouds in the pure blue sky, the sparkling waves in the rivers, the sound of cicadas at night, the pounding of surf on sand, the flights of osprey, the rustle of dune sunflower in the light wind, and the shock and sudden violence of clockwork afternoon thunderstorms in summer.  

In some ways I am becoming desensitized to the beauty of the natural world in this state much in the way that locals claim your blood becomes thinned due to the constant heat.  This of course, they feel, explains my current (otherwise inexplicable) urge to wear sweatshirts on sunny 70F degree days.  But it honestly does feel chilly!

I had a moment to consider all the things that I take for granted today when I got involved in a conversation about bees.  Yeah, bees.  While observing a honeybee gather pollen, a lady remarked about the insect’s presence.  Due to issues with the ominous sounding Colony Collapse Disorder,  hybridization, and increased use of insecticides, bees are apparently on the downswing in many areas of the country.  (She also mentioned that science still didn’t understand how honeybees fly, but it appears that may have been worked out.)  The fact that we were observing them at all seemed, to her, a moment worth noting as extraordinary. 

This got me thinking: have I noticed a lack of bees in all my days in the outdoors?  Have I become oblivious to their presence or have I failed to notice their absence?   

The idea that I could be missing out on such a potentially huge observation troubles me as a naturalist.  It makes me wonder if there are other baselines shifting around me while I unknowingly standby with my binoculars in hand, focusing too hard on those things that matter most to me and forgetting to stop, smell the roses, and check for bees. 

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One Comment to “A Conversation About Bees”

  1. The Myrmecos Blog has an interesting perspective on this, one that I do not see very often: “The notion of the honey bee as an integral component of our natural ecosystem is something of a myth.”

    I can count on one hand the number of wild bee colonies I’ve seen in my life. Unfortunately, one of them is currently in the oak tree outside my door. They cluster around the security light at night and some inevitable buzz into the house. Makes me kind of wish this one colony would collapse (but not really).