I have been noticing a decided lack of bees in my yard this year. And this is bees of all kinds. I usually have hundreds of native bumblebees–this year, not so much.
This year I can count the honeybees I’ve seen on two hands, probably. Very sad.
And while most folks wouldn’t bemoan a loss of wasps and their kin, they too are pollinators and I’m not seeing a whole lot of those either. Usually this time of year, as my large natives like filipendula and veronicastrum begin to bloom, I can just stand there and photograph away at the interesting array of flying things. This year there are a couple of bumblebees–for which I am truly grateful–but I’m also worried.
I’m not sure what to “blame:” the polar vortex, which we are so quick to blame for everything? It’s been nearly that cold in these parts before, and really minus 9 is not statistically colder than minus 4 (what I mean by that is it’s still in the same zone–technically Zone 6.)
I know one more of my neighbors has begun using a lawn service. Is that the “chemical” tipping point that drove away these good bugs? Is there now just too little habitat for them? That would break my heart.
I know I have not yet seen any of my favorite cicada killers–even though the dog day cicadas are here. And I’m even seeing far fewer butterflies this year. Very discouraging.
A recent weeding adventure in the garden did get me up close and personal with some bees–who were very unwilling to be photographed, although I think it was the nature of the plant. They were on and around Invincibelle Spirit hydrangeas, and those conceal the flowers inside the pink panicles. So the bees would land and almost immediately move underneath or inside the lovely “flower” heads.
Here’s the best I could do.
Here’s the most abundant creature in my yard, the bumble bee.
This is a hover fly. I have a decent number of these, in a couple of species as well.
Finally, at the lower right, about to disappear into the “flower” head, is a bumble bee. As I’ve said, I have very few of these this year. I suppose I should be grateful I have any, given the toxic cloud my neighbors seem intent on creating.