[ExI] bees again

spike spike66 at att.net
Tue May 26 22:46:31 UTC 2015


Knowing that I am a follower of bees, a friend sent me this excellent




Back story and an update: we had a group doing informal bee observations for
several years.  That project came to a sudden end in 2012 when the head of
that project suffered a personal tragedy and signed off; the dataset was
lost.  Only a few days later, on New Year's Day 2013 I saw the biggest mass
bee death I had witnessed.  I collected about 100 of the dead bees and
attempted to dissect them for tracheal mites, but my skills proved
insufficient, for I was unable to see anything with my home microscope.  I
saw no varroa mites either, or any obvious external distress such as
tattered wings or indications of injury.


In a typical season I see about 20-30 dead bees.  I saw about 100 that one
day.  The spring 2014 bee season I saw far fewer bees than in any season
before; I saw more Carpenter bees and bumblebees (and other minority
pollinators) than I saw honeybees.  That was the only season I witnessed




Now to this year: I see a puzzling paradox.  I have seen more bees this
spring than usual, perhaps a 1-sigma heavy bee season, but I have seen far
more bee deaths this year than in any year for about the last 10.  I have
seen about 150 bees dead or dying this season.  The pattern didn't match the
spring 2013 observation, where it was 100 bees all in one location at one
time.  This year I have noticed a lot of dead or dying bees, all in
different places and times, where the ones still living appear too weak to
fly.  This suggests starvation, which is entirely possible considering the
heavy population this year.  In the dying or dead bees I have examined, I
saw no indications of trauma or age-related distress.


It isn't clear what to think, but now I regret that no one (particularly me)
got off his lazy butt and set up a website or something to collect
observations, to step up when Queen Bee stood down.  I suppose I can claim I
have taken the first steps, by reserving a domain and viewing the HTML
lectures on Khan Academy.  So at least I now know how to set up a website,
but haven't done it yet, oy vey.



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