"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.

No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more man."  

~ Maurice Maeterlinck (often misattributed to Albert Einstein)

  

A honeybee in the middle of artichoke pollen frenzy with second bee diving in underneath.

 

Did you know that bees pollinate over one-third of the food crops we eat?

 

Almonds, blueberries, apples, cherries, cranberries, melon, sunflowers, alfalfa, broccoli, cucumbers, onions, oranges, avocados, pumpkins,

~ and many more flowering food crops ~

are pollinated by bees.

This all black bee was dive-bombed by other, pale headed, black bees buzzing around the lavenders. He was bigger and clumsier, didn’t fly as smoothly as the others.  They left him alone, though, once his rump was coated by English lavender's pollen.

   

Almonds are 100% dependent on bees, blueberries, cherries and apples, 90% dependent on bees.

For most crops, yields would be severely reduced without bees.

 

    It takes around 30,000 bees to pollinate an acre of fruit trees. Pollination success is increased if there are more present at peak flowering time.

Almond trees flower in very early spring, when many bees are sluggish from the cold, making the trees' 100% dependency on bees even more precarious when there are weather extremes.

These honeybees go mad for zucchini blossoms. This is a female blossom, male blossoms having only the one straight stamen. The bees tend to stop by the male blossoms for just a minute, but then they really wallow around for awhile in the female blossom. I’ve seen bees waiting at the flower’s edge for their turn in there. The small, striped beetle at bottom looks like he is waiting for a turn, as well.

The honeybees seem to prefer rich purple Spanish lavender to the more pale English blooms, at least in my garden.

About one second after this shot, the bee dove right into this Armenian cucumber blossom, only its back end visible.     

I couldn't help but be reminded of Winnie the Pooh, diving in the honey pot.

Ahem.

This was one of the aggressors to the all-black bee at photo above. These bees are fast, and aggressive, compared to honeybees.

A male pumpkin blossom with bee and beetle getting their pollen on.

Successfully pollinated pumpkin, day two.

 

Since 2006, there have been massive die-offs of bee colonies, all across the U.S. and Europe.

Globally, pollinators are declining in abundance and diversity, as we grow more and more food on less and less land to meet the world population's food demands.

 

The causes of the mysterious condition plaguing honeybees, known as Colony Collapse Disorder, are suspected to include:

mites and parasites,

weakened immune systems,

lack of plant diversity causing bee malnutrition,

effects of long-distance transport on colonies,

and pervasive pesticide use.

 

Syngenta says it is only pesticide misuse that causes problems,

while an Environmental Microbiology article on the National Institutes of Health website

discusses extensively the pesticide/parasite interactions

that significantly weaken honeybees.

Sunflowers attract bees, as well. The sunflower seeds grow right in the middle. You can see the black shells in the center, they are partway to harvest, while bees continue to pollinate the outer circle.

   

Bees fly the equivalent of more than twice around the world to gather a pound of honey. One worker bee gathers in her entire, six week life, about one-tenth of a teaspoon of honey. It takes around 10,000 bees to gather that one pound.

 

The health benefits of honey, a known anti-microbial, abound.

In one study, honey proved superior to both a commercial cough suppressant and anti-histamine in reducing nighttime cough and improving children's sleep.

An artichoke bloom. Crazy looking, isn’t it? Bees love artichoke and other thistle family blossoms.

Fat bee squeezing into an opening California poppy flower. These poppies are native to this area, they popped up as wildflowers in my garden. 

 

You can help the bees. and the human race.

Encourage garden sex. 

Plant natural pollinators:  native plants for your area. Wildflowers. These plants are naturally more robust and they provide the best source of pollen for bees and other insect pollinators.

Buy local food and honey when possible. 

Grow your own garden - the benefits are boundless for you and the bees.

Reduce or eliminate pesticide use.

Use natural fertilizers rather than chemically-based ones.

The jury on GMO seed safety (officially) is either out or paid by the chemical companies who sell them - there is no definitive answer on whether GMO seeds are safe. It is clear the companies that sell GMO seed do not have small farmer-friendly policies. Quite the opposite, in fact. 

If you garden, consider, at least, an organic garden. Pesticides like Roundup are known to be toxic.

Consider an organic diet. 

With the loss of bees is the loss of our food supply, loss of diversity in plants, loss of human life.

 

~ all photos taken in my front yard garden ~ 

 To see this post with better quality - and seven more photos - check it out at Medium.

     

Other sources:

York County Beekeepers Association

American Beekeeping Federation

Mother Jones

Syngenta

Vox

 

RATE: 26

JUNE 30, 2014 8:25PM

Today's my son's birthday - and I spent all day with the bees : )
Well done ~ very well done. Happy Birthday JT's son.
Informative and lovely photos, JT. Hoping for a better world, a return to a natural world is a great way to celebrate your child's day of birth.
Thanks, would say Noah : )
24.

Also thanks about the piece. I had other things to do today, but there was persistence in the air to write this. So I did. I admit to being fond of the bees.

For much better photo quality and more photos included, this is also posted at my lonely collection on Medium.
Anyone interested - go see!:

https://medium.com/a-different-perspective/garden-sex-a2f37aadb386
Hi Rita! Thanks : ) 
...as my day lay neglected all around me...
I had to spend the time. Always nice to see you.

Off to make dinner...
...oh crap, the hose has been on for two hours...yike!
That’s an amazing fact: Bees fly the equivalent of more than twice around the world to gather a pound of honey.




For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Coleridge, Kubla Khan.
We as a species are so reckless, so heedless...
Bees are pretty amazing, I agree. I've grown fond of them over the years, gardening in so many places....honey is good medicine, too. 
I'm not into it, but some swear by bee pollen for good health. Not sure taking bee pollen is good practice, but I'm not an expert, there.

Myriad, it is so true, yet we also get hoodwinked, misled endlessly, with powerful lobbies fighting - end goal: control of the world's food supply. 

That is what tipped me to only voting Green from now on. Corporations just cannot own leaders, have such power, any longer. 
The Earth and all of us are suffering for it in so many ways - control our food supply, too?? Yikes!
"Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature, winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind."
~Friedrich Nietzsche
You had me at "Garden Sex." Spectacular photos and scary text. Seems like I'm seeing more bees around here this season, however. R
Hi Gerald - and thank you, I think : )
Just go plant some wildflowers, k?


A wonderful article from Smithsonian on honey and its amazing properties:

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/
the-science-behind-honeys-eternal-shelf-life-1218690/?no-ist
I hope to have an organic garden one day, and maybe my own box of bees. We have fruiting trees almost year round and few days of freeze. The hives need to be temperature controlled, though. Until then, I just say "hear, hear".
I used to use pesticides on the weeds that grow in the cracks of my driveway. Once I figured out what RoundUp was doing, I stopped. What I've started experimenting with, and seems at least partially successful, is simply putting a kettle on, then pouring boiling water in the cracks. No toxicity whatsoever.
Until humanity learns to value life over money we will continue on the road to species suicide.One way or another nature will probably work around the death dealing agendas of humanity but nature is not necessarily friendly to humanity
These photos came from your front yard??? What does your backyard look like - a rainforest?
What an incredible post! Erotic, sensual, scary, informative, cautionary, luxurious, intriguing, exotic and a visual feast. There are more adjectives I could throw at this but I think I've covered the main ones. I had no idea artichokes were so lovely or that almonds bloomed. 
This needs to be read by a wider audience.
I kept honey bees for several years. The colony never survives the winter. The hive box is empty and available...hoping a wild swarm will take up residence.
Meanwhile, the garden flourishes and bees abound. No pesticides here!
Your photos and essay are marvelous. 
I grow artichokes, too. While I love eating them, I always leave one on each plant to bloom so I (and the beeeez) can enjoy the flowers.
Wow! What great photos and important words. The danger is so vast it is scary. They say there are people who bring bees to the fields at the correct time. So instead of no bees we will have robot bees that do the bidding of the vast field conglomerates. My heart aches for the bees and I rescue them from the swimming pool whenever I can.
Gorgeous pictures. I'm going to give all the bees in my yard a little more respect.
Seeing artichokes growing just excites me to no end. And part of the thistle family - who knew? No wonder I love artichokes so much!!!!!

This post renews me! Lovely photos.
Great message, and absolutely gorgeous photos!
Bees! Trees! 2B or not 2B!

20 years of gone
Milk, honey, children, silk
Bubble bee tuna
Gorgeous...entertaining, enlightening. " Let's hear it for the Bees!"
Pollination is essential for flower and fruit production for many crops. Pesticides and fungicides are like drugs. "Your health care provider has deemed that the benefits of the treatment outweighs the seldom fatal side effects." How reassuring!

Excellent photos of healthy looking plants. R.
Hi Gary - yeah, it was originally 'Bees ~ a photo essay.'
Zzzzz.
Okay, pun intended : )
After re-reading how I wrote it, thought Garden Sex more appropriate.
Thank you - the world needs to wake up to the cost of 'convenience' with some of these products.

Oryoki, hi - I am learning about fruit trees, not ever having them before. Since a kid I dreamed of a garden stuffed with flowers, herbs, fruits, trees....I still can't believe how much I love gardening : )

The bees are entertaining, never thought of them as having personalities. They never mind when I come in close with camera, only the last, Ca. poppy flower photo is a zoom on the camera shot, the rest are just me getting close.
...although some shots I did crop closer after taking, now that I think about it.
Using the 'zoom' shows how my camera is just a point and shoot little thing. I love it, though.
James, your comments are welcome. 
But -whatever that was - no thanks! 
It takes time to delete all those extra......letters.
Kosh, it is definitely a whole 'nother way of dealing with pests and disease, not using chemicals. It takes research and the willingness to be regular with maintenance. 
But - the more I learn, the more I realize we all need to be having yards that attract bees or we won't have bees.
There is, sadly, systemic dysfunction in our current paradigm of 'need convenience' and 'I'm too busy' and the Earth is inert.
Thanks for coming by.

Jan, I agree fully. It makes my guts wrench when I think of how we humans too often seem so hellbent on such dysfunctional, self-destructive, ways. That the principle of 'seventh generation' was slaughtered along with the tribes who lived by those principles might be our own doing in, I'm afraid.
“Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don't they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” 
~ Ray Bradbury, 'Dandelion Wine'
Margaret, what a wonderful comment - thanks, it means alot ,all the enthusiasm. The garden is a shaggy bounty, for sure. I love it, it is the first place I've felt grounded living out west this time around. 
When my 2 year-old granddaughter comes over and picks blueberries with me out there, it seems to me like this is the joy 'they' talk about : )
I'd love more to see this - I don't Facebook, but if you do, feel free to 'like.' Is that pushy? erk.
I like it when you come by, thanks.


9pm, dinner still not ready. 
stove is on the way out...
Hi Rosi, thanks. I always thought beekeeping to be pretty cool, but have never been involved or even near a beehive. We did rent an old Victorian house once that had a beehive in the wall! the beekeepers estimated it might be over 50 years old - and had over 200 pounds of honey in there. When the kids jumped up and down upstairs, bees would fall out of the gap between dining room ceiling and the old chandelier. Ha! My kids still talk about that house and those bees...

zanelle, it is dangerous, how we play games with our food supply. If anything ought to be holy, you'd think it would be our food!
It is true that bees are brought to fields at bloom time - that is thought to be one of the issues, all the transporting of bees - that cannot be something the bees do well with, I'd think it would mess up there internal GPS and clockwork or something....or is the perfect breeding ground for the parasites that are involved in their weakening....
However, if Americans and Europeans would start planting native plants, wildflowers - and not spray them - that gives the bees the diversity and strong plant pollen they need all over the two continents that are having the die-offs. 
The chemical use has got to stop. It's bad.
As always, thanks for coming by ~

jl - thanks : ) and safe journeys to you and yours - hi to the bees in Mexico - enjoy your adventure!
This is photo-journalism at its best, JT. Not just pretty pictures, although the quality of the photography is stunning. This is a problem I have been aware of for quite a while, but I still learned a great deal from your post. Thanks for schooling us.

Lezlie
Thanks, Lezlie. I do think people are becoming more and more aware. I hope so.

...and Monsanto is suing Vermont to stop labeling of their products! 
Consumers have every right to know what their product is made from - isn't that federal law? 
Lawyers spy loopholes, GMO isn't considered an 'ingredient'...?

Anyway. Thanks for reading, guys. Hope some ideas take root : )

Hi Poetess, thanks : ) Aren't artichokes wild? As a kid, we called what turns out to be the purple 'petals' - "monkey hair." not sure where that came from. What mom called it. I love them, fun in the garden. 
Hope you're doing okay with son and fam on the way to new chapter...
hang in there.
Timely post and sensual pics to JT. From what I've been reading lately, it's neonicotinoid-based pesticides that seem to be the main culprit. So your advice to avoid them is well-taken.
Note to self: deer ticks adore mullein. 
One came up as wildflower, I left it in the garden for the medicinal blossoms, now picked and making earache oil - but the deer ticks! 
All over each other, all over the stalk. 30? mating tick couples. 
No more mullein.
HI clay ball - and thanks : ) Spread the news.

James H., I've been a vegetarian for almost 30 years and still think of Bumble Bee tuna fondly : )

Hi jmac! thanks : )

Thank you, Ande - it seems so simple and important a change to make, yet dauntingly complicated to pull off. 
At least planting native plants is a sensible thing.
Lyle, it's clear you get it. Cheers for healthy plants : )
I spend a lot of time on that soil...
As always, nice to have you come by ~

Hi Abra - yes. and ironically, they came up with that nicotine based form to be less toxic that the older kinds of pesticides.
The link to syngenta is all about how the neonicotinoids are not a problem, while all other articles, studies, and reviews, show it clearly does involve pesticide use.
The long-distance trucking is also a terrible way of handling bees - it throws them off so badly, making them susceptible to the parasites, which interact with the pesticides and are killing our food pollinators.
Scary.
Nice to have you come by ~
Wonderful photos and great information here. Our almond trees are gone now after 40+ years but I loved the annual spring buzz traffic jam, with bees darting and zipping and winging away happily.
lschmoopie!
Glad to see you here - and just writing your name makes me smile : )
I am curious what happened with the almond trees - development? land sale? age? disease? weather?
I hate to hear they're gone...
I planted two almond trees here, one has about 100 almonds this year! I laugh at myself for my excitement : )
Now, how does one harvest these babies??
All snips that arrived in my inbox today from The Cornucopia Institute.

http://www.cornucopia.org/



Mother Earth: The Cornucopia Institute Is Changing the World

Mother Earth News lauds Cornucopia as one of 10 environmental nonprofits that are changing the world. We are proud to stand among groups like Organic Seed Alliance and Union of Concerned Scientists, and this honor also belongs to our members who have supported us with their wisdom and financial contributions. Thank you!
READ MORE

Séralini Glyphosate/GMO Study Rises Again
Image
In 2012, Elsevier published the now-notorious Séralini article stating that a GMO maize diet caused significant liver and kidney damage and hormonal disturbances in rats. The pictures of tumor-laden rats rocked the internet, and a year later, with bio-tech’s Richard Goodman at the helm, Elsevier retracted the study as inconclusive (a previously unheard-of reason for retraction). Environmental Sciences Europe has now boldly republished the article.
READ MORE

Cornucopia Searching for the Names of NOSB Applicants
Image Credit: Andrea Aschedamini
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was set up by Congress to advise USDA on organic materials and policy issues. The USDA Secretary has increasingly appointed industry-friendly corporate representatives to NOSB seats over true organic farmers, advocates and environmentalists. Worse, the appointment process has moved behind closed doors. Cornucopia seeks your help in identifying candidates who have applied to current positions open on the Board. By sharing their names with the organic community, we can pressure Secretary Vilsack to make the best, truly representative appointments. If you know of any current candidates, please email Will Fantle.
READ MORE

No Organic Seed Integrity — No Organic Food Integrity
Image Credit: USDA
Seeds are the foundation of our food supply, but they are being threatened by widespread contamination with DNA from genetically engineered (GE) crops. In response to the threat, organic farmers are educating themselves about the sources of contamination, how to detect it, and how to prevent it. The integrity of the organic food system is vitally important, not only to organic farmers, but to all of us.
READ MORE

GMO Labeling on the Ballet in Oregon

This November, Oregon will become the next state to put GMO labeling of food ingredients up for a vote with Initiative #44. Over 150,000 signatures were gathered to qualify for the ballot, almost twice the number required. Though donations supporting the legislation are already flowing in, it is clear that opponents in the biotech and food industries will handily outspend their efforts. Supporters are gearing up for a “monstrous huge field effort,” according to initiative co-sponsor Scott Bates.
READ MORE

We need to wake up to what is happening to our food supply!!
James Hart, I noticed your explanation for the multiple comments somewhere - thanks for the explanation!
Great post! My local farm markets have really nice local honey from several bee keepers. Some of my favorite stuff.
Bravo to you for defending the bees - and for daring to take these photos! The boyfriend and I are very concerned about bees disappearing and whenever we see them here we do what we can to help them (often we see bees on the sidewalks dying...not sure if this is just what happens at the end of their life cycle or something else). A few weeks ago, we were in a beach town for a short couple getaway and the boyfriend had a bee on his pants pocket. He went into a nearby park and found a flower to set the bee into. But he wasn't sure if she was okay..... Thanks for this great information and the gorgeous photos, and a belated happy birthday to your son. Save the bees!
Hi Robyn, thanks. 
Local farmers' honey is so delicious.

Hi Alysa - yes! Save the bees!
Glad to know two caring Parisians are out there.
I would worry those bees are being sprayed, but who knows, it might just be the end of their lifespan...wish more people even noticed! 
As always, nice to see you here : )

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