I’m not really a bee fan, I must admit. My encounters with them have been largely unpleasant and the few times I’ve been stung, the physiological reaction has been more intense with each subsequent sting. While I’m probably not totally allergic to bee venom, I’m certainly sensitive to it.
So for a while there it was war between me and the bees. Didn’t matter if they were honeybees, wasps, hornets, or bumble bees, I used whatever means available to remove individual bees permanently from my immediate environment.
A few years ago I learned that honeybees were experiencing a die-off, with pesticides at the source of the problem. The culprits are seemingly the neonicotinoids that act on the bee’s central nervous system. The pesticides accumulate in soil and plants and bees get exposed through residues in nectar and pollen or contaminated soil. Suddenly all the adult honeybees in a colony disappear or die.
This colony collapse disorder impacts the nation’s biggest pollination event—that of California’s almond orchards. California grows ~80% of the world’s almond supply and it takes an ever increasing number of honeybees to do that job. Each February, approximately 1.5 million bee hives are trucked to California from the Mid-West—where the neonicotinoids are used widely. Several European countries have banned or limited the use of these chemicals in an effort to protect honeybees; this has not yet happened in the United States.
So I am changing my personal war on bees. I carefully remove the honeybees that land in the pool so they can resume their flight when their wings dry. I shoo those that fly into the house back out instead of grabbing the fly swatter. I distract my dog when I see she is chasing after bees. Small efforts to be sure, though I feel I must do my personal part while the federal regulators and courts wrangle over the pesticide issues.