My neighbour on Whidbey Island has bees and she's having a hard time maintaining her hives. Unfortunately, one problem we have here, with hot days and cool marine air nights, is powdery mildew on plants. I've used a tiny bit of fungal spray on my quince tree this year, but reading this article, I'll have to rethink its use from now on. Thank goodness that we spray nothing else and let nature take its course.
My dad used to climb up our apple tree every year with Q-tips and "play bee", because there were no apple trees nearby for the bees to cross-pollinate with. He did a damn fine job, too.
On the radio yesterday, they were talking about the disappearance of 80% of the bees again, in the context of the disappearance of breakfast in France if these things continue: 300% increase in the price of honey and butter over the last few years, huge increases also in the price of coffee and cocoa... Will this force the French to start eating bacon and eggs?
Anyway, the person went on to say that it's not just the bees -- it's all insects. For anybody who has any doubts about this, the person said to think back (for those old enough to do so) how many squashed bugs would be on a car's windscreen at the end of a road trip in the old days compared to now. And I realised that this is totally true, even when I just think about road trips that I have taken in France and not just when my family lived in Bug Land. I would rent a car for the weekend and bring it back covered with bugs 20 years ago (albeit only half as many as in the Deep South of my youth). Now when I take a car for the weekend, I often bring it back with the windscreen just as clean as when I left.
Kerouac, motor designers spend millions making their vehicles "slippery" in wind tunnels and, by using various spoilers, control the air flow up and over the windscreen, A side effect is that bugs also go over the windscreen rather than hitting it as it did in days of yore.
Kids of today will never know the pleasure of scraping a squadron of locusts off the screen or removing small parrots who have gone straight through the radiator grill and are gently roasting up against the engine block.
However the fact remains...swarms of bees are becoming fewer and the problems of pollinating are as bad for the farmers as for the backyard bee-keepers. Without bees there will be famine unless the situation is quickly and decisively addressed.
Travel! Set out and head for pastures new[br] Life tastes the richer when you’ve road worn feet.[br]Ibn Battuta[br]
In Zambia we are coming up to the Inswa time. This is when, after a heavy rain, millions of flying ants/termites take to the air. "The breeding cycle of the inswa is such that they come out of and fly in massive numbers during several nights after the first rains." (Around November) They will take to the skies for a few hours each late afternoon/evening and within that short space of time their wings will fall off and they will resume on foot. Unfortunately for them they are a delicacy here so are gathered or collected in vast numbers, fried and eaten. I think most get away though especially out in the bush.
I was here at the right time last year when I was driving to pick up Mrs M from work and they appeared en masse, literally like a thick moving fog that choked up every open window that has a fly screen. Also the air filter on my car actually. There are five major types of edible insects here and they come out at different times of the year. More of you are interested -
Oh, that's interesting because the flying ants are eaten here as well. They must be two different kinds, though, because the chicatanas are new world ants. Grasshoppers are such a common food that they are a symbol of Oaxaca. No caterpillars that I know of, although the agave grubs are a delicacy. A kind of live beetle is eaten in other parts of Mexico, but I haven't encountered that, thank goodness.
When I lived in Wilmington, NC in the 1980s, the neighbor across the street & I both tried to garden organically & also prevented the mosquito trucks from discharging poison in front of our yards. We were the only ones in the subdivision who routinely had bees & butterflies flying around our gardens, but as the area grew, I'm sure our little patches would have been adversely affected.
France seems to be aggressive against pollution, but it's also a large, very developed country.
Sounds as though being an island with all the ocean breezes and the relative lack of industry must be saving Cuba's bees.
Post by cheerypeabrain on Apr 21, 2018 21:38:12 GMT
I'm no expert dearie. I love bumblebees of course and have noticed quite a few recently emerged queens about...mostly b.hypnorum and the massive b.terrestris although I've seen the odd hairy footed flower bee....
I arrived at our place on the coast this afternoon and the blooming wisteria is just humming with bees.
I have also been signing online petitions to French members of parliament to ban glyphosates for an association called Pollinis but unfortunately many farmers in France still want to use it as weed killer.
This apiary inspector has successfully trained a dog to sniff out American foulbrood, a bacteria that can spread quickly through hives, devastating their populations. She is currently training another dog as well.
On the radio today, they were saying that urban areas in France (and probably not just France) have become major bee havens compared to agricultural areas. Most cities (especially Paris) have banned all use of pesticides in parks and gardens, which cannot be said for what most of the farmers are doing. In addition to the various domesticated bees in official beehives, Paris has more than 80 species of "wild" bees. Another bee-friendly factor even in the big cities is the huge number of window boxes for flowers.
While I didn't have much in the way of flowers in my own windowbox, I never saw any bees in it, but there were absolute swarms of small pollinators all over the mint and the dill when they were blooming. If I had a real flower box (geraniums or something), I would probaby get some bees, too.
Post by cheerypeabrain on Jan 8, 2020 22:15:55 GMT
My excuse for not removing all the dead foliage this winter was that I'd seen a couple of Queen bumblebees burrowing into the soft earth. The mass of detritus also helps to protet the ground and prevents erosion of the soil due to the very wet winter.
As soon as some of the plants begin to flower I will start clearing the ground, but away from the area I saw the Queens digging in...(part of the raised bed.)