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Oh Geesh…Bees


Had my first run in this season with a winded stinger…. Not certain whether it was a bee, wasp or hornet. I really tried not to look that closely when my peripheral vision picked it out leisurely walking up the inside of my car window as I was leaving with my grandson Evan last night.


Now those who know me well will realize just how brave I’ve become since my reaction was to just grab my door handle, close my eyes and whip open the door, praying that the bee-wasp-hornet would feel the breeze and fly free…. far, far away from – me…  As calm as I think I reacted, it still took me a few minutes to compose myself before we drove off however. Evan patted my shoulder and said consolingly, as only an astute eleven year old can, “Well seems like it is that time of year again Grandma.”


Actually, it is rare for me to think much about them in the spring as they are usually way too busy with the flowers and so leave me pretty much alone. I find that autumn is when they act stupidly and follow people around, old, drunk on the season and seeking the long past spring of flowers and gentle warmth.


Regardless of my phobia, it is difficult to ignore the problems theses insects are having the last few years due to man’s use of pesticides and their numbers being drastically reduced. After all, we rely on them and other pollinators for our food supply. For many years, farmers have been using hives full of honeybees to help pollinate crops. However, a new study published in the journal Science has found that encouraging wild pollinators could be more effective.


Researchers examined the comings and goings of wild pollinators and managed colonies of bees on 41 different crops, ranging from coffee to grapefruit, almonds, cherries and kiwi fruit, in 19 countries around the world. What they found was that those crops pollinated by wild insects, such as bees, beetles, flies and butterflies, resulted in a much higher proportion of flowers forming seeds or fruits.


More visits by wild insects appeared to increase the amount of fruit that starts to grow by twice as much as an equal increase in visits by managed honeybees. This means farmers might get better yields, by restoring or conserving natural areas within fields to encourage wild pollinators rather than relying on honeybees alone.


Apparently, it is the greater variety of shapes of wild insects mingling in the flowers that spreads pollen more efficiently. Wild insects also visit among more plants and varieties, thus cross-pollinating them.


According to their studies, it appears that many crops, like some people, like it wild, varied and often. Oh those scientists! They can have such a turn of phrase when it comes to sex amongst the plants….


So keep this in mind when planting your gardens and leave a little nature in amongst your planted plots to host more natural pollinators and your yields too may increase…


Happy gardening!

... and more BEES


–Marla Spivak (American Entomologist)

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