For years we've been hearing about problems facing bees, especially honeybees. There is colony collapse disorder, mites, pesticides, in addition to all the predators and disease which the little insects have to face. It is daunting to say the least and bee populations have been declining drastically year after year.
Well, now I have some anecdotal evidence to add to that sad litany.
My garden has always been visited by lots of bees, both native bees and honeybees. In past years, there have been hundreds, thousands even, of honeybees buzzing around the yard on a hot summer day, sipping from flowers, lining up around the edges of the birdbaths to get water, or crowding onto my inefficient hummingbird feeder to gather the drips of sugar water that leak out. I don't know where they came from; perhaps there was a neighbor who was a beekeeper or they may have been bees that had gone feral, but they were present in great numbers.
This is a picture from last year when there were plenty of honeybees around to take advantage of leaking sugar water.
Recently, as I was watching bumblebees swarm over the flame-shaped blossoms of Anisacanthus wrightii, it suddenly hit me: I couldn't recall seeing a single honeybee in my garden this spring and summer.
Not. One. Honeybee.
Now, I admit there might have been some around. I may have even seen some and forgotten about them. But if they've been present, they've been scarce.
After I had my epiphany, I walked around the garden doing a cursory search. There were plenty of bees.
They were primarily big fat bumblebees.
But there were also large carpenter bees, as well as many varieties of smaller bees, including mason bees.
And they were all buzzing busily around the garden's flowers.
But there were no honeybees. And so, my question: Where are they? What happened to them? Did they die out or just move on as bees will do?
I'll probably never know the answer, but their absence is ominous when considered in the context of so much bad news about bees.
I'll just have to be content with my bumblebees and other native bees and hope the day never comes when they, too, disappear.