Have you heard about the bees? Are you paying attention to the bees? A few years back Colony Collapse Disorder was identified and got a bit of press, particularly in agriculture circles. Bees in the almond fields of California started disappearing. This affected the bottom line for the almond industry, and when money is on the table, people tend to take notice. Flash forward to today and all bees are under stress. I've just inherited a P-Patch on top of Queen Anne. I was so excited to see beehives onsite when I took my first tour three weeks back. Yesterday, I received the P-Patch newsletter and I've come to find out our bees are gone. Gone or dead, but they are no longer in the hive. This breaks my heart.
Where have all the bees gone? I heard a little buzz about debilitated populations early this spring and checked in with my favorite beekeeper, Corky Luster of Ballard Bee Company. He echoed my concern, "Want to buy some beehives?" he asked me half-kidding. He has lost bees this year, as well. Corky started his business, in small part, to help rescue bee populations. I can only imagine the sinking feeling he has as he walks up to empty hives.
For anyone interested in beekeeping, now may be the time. It's not 'easy', but it's not hard. Not only would you be supplying your neighborhood plants with necessary pollinators, (and grabbing some jars of honey for your pantry) you may actually be helping in some small part. Helping effect the population. Helping beekeepers figure out what the hell is going on. Helping to make a change. Now, more than ever, is a great time to committ. The scale needs tipping.
And for the record, I live in a small apartment. I wanted to put bee hives on my east-facing deck (though I was concerned about them getting enough sun) but my neighbor was really against it. (She asked me to keep guinea pigs or rabbits instead!) Some people just don't like bees, I dig it. But now is a great time to figure out just how sweet they can be.