I remember summers when I was little. There were lots of bees. Bees were part of the regular day when you were playing outside. We weren't afraid of bees, they weren't likely to take any notice of you, they would buzz around on the flowers and plants. Busy as a bee is a classic phrase, but in the abundance of plant life on the farm, the bees were actually kinda lazily buzzing about... maybe their little pollen carriers were full, but they didn't seem to be frantically working. They would land on something, buzz buzz buzz in a little bee dance, and fly off.
But something happened to the bees. Bee colonies collapsed to the extent that scientists are worried there won't be enough pollinators to keep the crops going that feed the world. The near catastrophic collapse of bee colonies in 2007 was linked to a combination of all of the pesticides used today, bee parasitites (mites), pathogens, and habitat loss. I have noticed the absence of bees when outside for several years now.
Walking home from Bear Paw, I thought I would take a picture of the little purple flowers on the corner of my street. As I stopped to take in the flowers, the motion of a little bee caught my eye!
I was delighted to see not one, but four different bees buzzing around on my block,
THESE bees, were busy bees. They didn't sit still for photos, and they scurried over the flowers in a mad bee frenzy, an impressive speed since they were up to their knees in the lawn of fuzz on the flower. Yes, that's right, I just referenced bees knees.
This little bee didn't really like the giant human lingering nearby. It chose the furtherest flower possible and did it's best to avoid my lens.
There's a lot I didn't know about bees. Sure, everyone wonders if they have knees. But how about this...did you know they have tongues? I don't know why but I never pictured bees with tongues, but they do indeed have them. I had never noticed the detail in their little translucent wings before either.
I am used to their fuzzy striped little black and yellow stripes through. Not sure I ever stared close enough to note the little antennae before, even though I knew they were there.
This little sweety was just in heaven in this bouquet, and he wiggled happily between the blossoms and the buds. Again, those little wings are just fantastic. The bee pictures in my National Geographic article were a little sad...I think these are much better. They look much cuter and happir here...maybe they just like Alaska a lot too.
How long does a bee live? Well, it depends. A queen honeybee could live up to 3 years of age. Most of her worker bees and drones will only live 6 weeks, or 4 months, a year max, all dependent on their role in the colony. What happens to them in the winter? Do they freeze and die? Migrate to Mexico like butterflies? No. They huddle together in the hive and shiver...all winter long...keeping the queen safe and warm from the constant vibration of their little bee bottoms and and wings...each bee rotating to the outside so that no bee stays cold for long. Bees are awesome. What can you do to help bees? The obvious is donate to bee specific charities like the Pollinator Partnership....buy local produce, buy organic. But what should be even more obvious is even simpler. Buy some outdoor plants and flowers. A flowerbox will give the bees some food, a food source safe from pesticides and spray, and beautify your world as well. If you are lucky, you will get a few birds stopping in as well. I am trying....so far I just have non flowering greens in my 4th attempt at turning my flowerbox into a hummingbird garden...perhaps I just have to wait for the bees to show up and help them bloom.
That's it for today Bee kind...especially to bees, it's a rough world for them nowadays.