Friday, July 27, 2012

I Complain About Heat, Bees Keep Working

Suffice to say that this summer has not gone to plan. It's been over 100 degrees for most days in the last eight weeks, and over 90 degrees on almost every remaining day.  The creeks and rivers are down.  The oxygen levels in the coastal rivers are too low to support life.   Work in the garden is comprised of keeping up with the drought-tolerant plants and keeping alive (or cutting the dead of) those species that cannot tolerate this heat wave.

This pattern has been reflected all over North America and in other world regions as well - 2011 was the hottest year on record (a few hundred years of dependable records), and 2012 is on pace to blow that new record out of the water.  At last count, 7 of the last 10 years have been in the top 10 "hottest years on record," and 56% of the United States is in a "severe drought." It's freaking hot, Mr. Bigglesworth. Academic careerism aside, the climate is changing.

But the bees keep working, despite every mathematical odd against their survival through the next month, let alone the next winter. Despite the inevitability that humans will introduce or cultivate - perhaps intentionally, perhaps not - more pest organisms that are damaging to bee populations, and despite the fact that too many people I know teach their children to "kill all bees" on sight.  And despite the fact that New York City's newfound ability to "allow" people to own bees has depressingly shown that bees do not have enough forage to survive in New York City in significant numbers.

Despite all of that, the bees keep working, because that is their only reality.

Honeybee drunk on pollen - Marsh Hibiscus

Hoverfly posing as a bee in Morning Glory var. "Jamie Lynn"

Bumblebee on Smooth Coneflower var. "Magnus"

Garden, "Center view", July 29

Carpenter Bee on Bee Balm var. "Petite Delight"

Carpenter Bee on Bienenfreund aka "Bees Friend" aka Phacelia tanacetifolia

Honeybee on Bee Balm var. "Raspberry Wine"

One of my Sierra (CA) Audubon-style bee houses surrounded by Joe Pye Weed var. "Phantom."
Biggest users of the bee house in 2011 were Sweat Bees - currently active in the garden

Bumblebee on my Wild Bergamot - more on that story soon.
Note the powdery mildew starting to show up...


BrookfieldAngler said...

Interesting...and nice pictures.

Bees ability to survive is really quit amazing. I noticed something this year at my house that only now clicked.

The entire south side of my house is covered in ivy - Wrigley Field amounts of ivy!

For the past 4 years, I have barely ever seen a bee hanging around it but this year there has been a huge amount. If you walk by, it sounds like the ivy is alive. Hundreds, if not thousands, of bees have all of the sudden found sustainable nutrients from the ivy that they have never needed before.

Really quite interesting. If I didn't have the little guy, I probably would have let them bee (see what I did there?). But, I ahd to action and spray the ivy with some bee killer/repellent.

Kirk Mantay said...

Well, until your little guy gets stung for the first time and you confirm he's not allergic, I can't fault you for spraying.

I also tend to differentiate (because I'm a nerd) between bees and wasps/hornets/yellowjackets. Not only because the latter group is more venomous/painful, but because they are FAR more aggressive than actual bees (honeybee, bumblebee, etc).

Just last night, I scooped Hank up from a play area because a paper wasp was circling a bit too close, over and over again...upon further inspection (and his total meltdown), I saw a softball-size wasp nice right where he was playing. Daddy trauma. j

My advice: remove the ivy. Just cut it near the ground, and pull it off when it's dead and brown.

Kirk Mantay said...

wasp NEST, not "wasp nice"

BrookfieldAngler said...

You know...everyone says to take it down because its bad for the bricks.

The front fifth of the house had never had it before. When I first moved in 4 years ago, the mortar had to be redone on that section while the parts that did have ivy looked immaculate.

The front part now has ivy

I generally like the look of it, just not the bugs it tends to attract. All it really takes is some spray every month or so in the warmer months and they seem to stay under control

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

Great collections of photos bud!

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