My Plum tree’s are in full bloom.. so many other things in bloom as well.. including creeping Charlie and the Violets, the wild strawberries and of course all the currents.
But there is something missing this year.. Bee’s.. Where are my bee’s? I normally have a number of native bees that call my farm home, I have lots of bumble bee’s and I make a huge effort to plant, and allow to bloom for bee feeding in all three season’s, spring, summer and fall pollen harvesting. Nothing has been sprayed in the farmers fields yet, which always if there is drift does a reduction of my bee’s..
I have carefully not bothered my squash bee’s overwintering grounds, I left my leaves and habit over the fall and well into late spring so that I would give them their needed home and protection.. many of the native bees overwinter under leaf litter in the ground.
However it does not seem to matter this spring.. the flowers are blooming, the fruit tree’s are blooming but on any given day, if I am lucky, I might see one to four bees.. mostly native smaller or the odd bumble bee. On good years, I can hear the hum of the bee’s as I walk up.. this year its silent..
Depending on what I am working with, I am either using a tiny fluffy bush to gather and move pollen around or I am using feathers.. I am going to need to order in more native bees for the farm to rebuild the population and see what the rest of the garden season brings.
Not just on my farm this year.. It would appear that its been a very hard winter-spring on the honey bee’s and keepers both in my own province and across Canada as well.
How are the bee’s looking in your local area?
“Canadian beekeepers are expressing concern about the effects of poor weather on their colonies, with the president of the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association describing the level of dead or ailing ones as “astounding.”
“It’s quite discouraging and demoralizing for beekeepers,” Jim Coneybeare, 55, said in a phone interview Monday.
An association survey of almost 900 Ontario beekeepers indicated that 70 per cent suffered unsustainable losses this past winter.
“I’ve been getting calls from beekeepers around the province,” said Coneybeare, who lives in Fergus, Ont.
“The number of dead or weak colonies is astounding. These could be the worst winter losses on record.”
That’s bad news not only for beekeepers, but for vegetable and fruit growers who depend on bees for pollination.
More than 40 per cent said the recent long, cold winter that extended into spring was the main reason for the heavy losses.
“Pollen from the trees usually comes at the end of March, beginning of April, (but) nobody saw that until the end of April, beginning of May, so a lot of our pollen was delayed,” Coneybeare said.
The third-generation beekeeper explained that an abundance of pollen and nectar leads queen bees to raise a lot of young bees, but that production of the brood is cut back if there is not enough.
Coneybeare, who said Ontario has more than 3,000 beekeepers, noted that plants want sunshine and temperatures of around 25 C and that they don’t yield pollen and nectar if it’s 18 C and cloudy.
“And then there’s still certain areas where we see certain problems with pesticides,” he added. The association has asked the Ontario government for financial assistance to allow beekeepers to recover and rebuild their colonies.
Coneybeare doubts the problem will affect the price of honey in stores, but fruits and vegetable prices could feel the impact.”