Aside from honey bees being the producers of honey, honey bees also are responsible for pollinating many U.S. food crops such as soybean, apple, peach, brocolli, squash, zuchini and all citrus fruits. Their role is crucial!
Sadly, a condition called CCD (colony collapse disorder) is causing the vast majority of bee deaths, but researchers have yet to determine CCD's cause.
A new Department of Agriculture report noted that the absolute cause of CCD wasn't found, but that they eliminated that there was one single cause. Instead, they determined that several factors such as drought conditions, poor nutrition and parasites were just a few of the causes.
Others have suggested that crop dusting, pesticide dusted seeds or simply the over-use of pesticides by the general population are causes of the honey bee demise.
When a friend in the horticulture industry told me a few years ago about how the honey bee population was being depleted, he pointed out that if I looked around, I'd notice that there are far less honey bees around.
I did notice and have been more aware of honey bee sightings which is why as I was walking through my neighborhood last night, I was totally taken aback as I rounded the corner and heard a loud "buzzzzzzzzzzz." There, buzzing around my neighbor's two trees in their front yard, had to be hundreds of bees, primarily honey bees. I haven't seen that many honey bees in years.
Searching online I couldn't figure out exactly what type of trees these were, but every summer they bloom with white, odd-looking flowers. The trees also always have a very pungent sweet smell. It's quite strong. Although, the strong aroma may be coming from the sheer size of these two trees with their thousands of flowers. The trees easily must be at least 25 feet tall.
I stood there in awe for quite awhile taking photos of the bees, watching them traverse from flower to flower as I wondered if all of these bees would be in bee heaven next year?
I certainly hope that researchers can solve the mystery of what is killing honey bees because not only are they instrumental in pollinating our nation's food supply, they truly are one of the small wonders of the world.
I'm planning to stop by the local university's garden this afternoon to see if the director can identify this tree, but if you recognize it, please leave a comment.