Bumble Bees

Honeybees are an important part of a sustainable farm.  They give us honey (perhaps nature’s perfect food) and they help pollinate our vegetables and fruit.

Colony collapse disorder and vanishing bees have gotten a lot of attention lately.  Rightly so.  If we don’t reverse course somehow, the day will soon arrive when we won’t have honeybees around any more.   If that happens, the effect on agriculture will be severe.

Like many beekeepers, we’ve had problems with our honeybees over the last few years. But fortunately we still have one strong hive, and we’re looking forward to extracting honey soon.

Many people don’t realize that honeybees are not native to America.  They were brought over from Europe with the early settlers.  They’re wonderful additions to our environment, and they’ve been here longer than the families of almost all of us, but they’re still relative newcomers.

There are about 4,000 bee species that are native to North America.  Among pollinators, perhaps the best-known of them is the bumble bee.

We see bumble bees a lot around here.  I spend part of nearly every morning in the squash garden, and it hums with the sound of bees.   I love to see bumble bees in the squash blossoms.

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Bumble bees also are helping pollinate our cucumbers and cantaloupes these days.

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They’re not at all aggressive toward humans, but they are territorial and early in the summer it is common for us to see one or more of them hovering over a chosen spot on our back deck, waiting to do battle with any other bee that might issue a challenge.

Let us hope that pesticides and GMO crops don’t wipe out all of the honeybees.  But if they do, we can hope that the bumble bees will somehow manage to survive.

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