bees in flight – busy pollinating my vegetables!

Honey Bees

honey bee in flight
(BugGuide ID request for this bee)

I heard a nice story on NPR the other day (The Buzz On Bees: Coping With Vanishing Colonies, August 7, 2009). Mostly about urban bees.

I didn’t know there are 227 bee species in New York City – all year-round residents. And 4,000 across the US. Its wonderful to think of such biodiversity in backyards.

Unfortunately, bee numbers are still declining. “There’s been an estimated … 36 percent decline .. since last year.”

I was interested in the description of a recent study. So far, no single factor explains bee decline. “All of the research over these past years have left us still kind of scratching our heads. In fact, one of the largest [studies] we just published earlier this week, where at least 61 or so variables were investigated in colonies afflicted with the CCD or colony collapse disorder kind of syndrome. And the long and the short of it is, is that no one factor really seems to have a strong correlation with the disorder. And so what seems to be the case is that there’s a combination of many different factors…” (vanEngelsdorp, et al., 2009, PloS ONE)

Probably many different problems all together are affecting bee populations.

My experience with bees this year has been positive. My cukes and pumpkins are being pollinated fine and I see lots of bees in both my gardens. More than last year. I also notice a lot more flowers and around my neighborhood and our community gardens. More interest in gardens here. That’s got to be good for the bees.

bumble bee in flight
(BugGuide ID request for this bee) Xylocopa virginica (Eastern carpenter bee)

16 Comments. Leave new

  • Kathy – your picture is totally AWESOME!
    – Daisy in Arizona

  • Wow, what a great photo! I want an SLR camera SO bad!! I bet you have one. 🙂

  • This photo is really amazing. I could see it in a national geograhic. Wonderful!

  • Ditto on the photos, and on your bee experience this year. We've had a ton of pollinators, early in the season and now. And my flowers and veggies are doing great. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something is turning around in the mysterious world of the bees.

  • Awesome photo!

    PBS recently re-aired a Nature documentary on Colony Collapse Disorder. It's from 2007 or 2008, I believe, but really well-done:

  • What fun pictures! That may be a carpenter bee….they are big (or bigger) than bumbles but have shiny black 'butts'. They like to live burrowed in wood structures.

  • Beautiful captures! Bug guide rules, too. They helped me identify over a dozen kinds of bees in my yard last year. There's probably lots of native bees coming and going in those meadows Skippy's been romping in.

  • These bee pictures are great! I have had so many bees visit my garden this year. This morning I was looking at my sunflowers and each sunflower had around 2-5 bees pollinating. It's so exciting.

    What kind of camera do you use?

  • Cross fingers, lots of bees in my garden this year, esp. at the cantaloupe.

    But, many cantaloupe flowers, and 5-6 vines, but only three cantaloupes. This is my first year growing them, is that usual?

  • (For camera, click on my facs on sidebar.)

    My first year growing cantalopes too. I'm hoping for even just one from my 3 or 4 scrawny vines. I've read we should be getting 5-7 melons per vine.

  • Those photo's are so AWESOME, Kathy!!

    I just saw a show on the DYING bees on PBS. I'm sure if you go to the PBS website….you'll find it; and can watch online. It was a very scary program, to say the least!! EVERYONE needs to watch it. I forget if it was Nova or Nature or another PBS program.

  • Kathy … after years of trying I can attest that organic melons are next to impossible. However, if you want to give it your best shot, here is what you do.

    1. Plant them in FULL sun.
    2. Give them something to climb up (keep most of the plant off of the ground).
    3. Provide constant drip irrigation.
    4. Plant them in your best heavily manured soil … pure rotted manure is not overkill.
    5. Cover the whole mess with floating row cover to keep out the beetles.
    6. Hope or pray … your personal choice.

    This is why most are grown in new desert environments with artificial water sources … the environment is inhospitable to fungus and bad insects. Nevertheless, they are still sprayed with systemics.


  • What about our native pollinators? Though I haven't seen as many bees in recent years, there are many species of insects that are plant specific for pollination and seem to be doing a good job in my gardens and orchards.
    Perhaps not all is lost…?

  • blimey what an amazing snapshot

  • Good pictures!

  • Wow this is sure to help me sketch bees but good pics.


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