Monday, March 5, 2018

On bee-coming native

We've finished assembly of the bee house kit we bought a couple of weeks ago. We're not planning to hang it until after the winds have stopped howling and the snow has melted. Those winds have already blown down the bird feeder that normally hangs in front of the house. Since we're still in the first week of the month, we're claiming that March is now coming in like a lion. We hope this means the month will go out like a lamb.

a bee house for some natives
a bee house for some natives
Photo by J. Harrington

At the time we bought the kit, we foolishly thought it would be a build it, hang it and forget it. Silly us. Minnesota's Bee lab notes that:
  • You wouldn’t like to live in a house that is never cleaned, and neither do bees. Nests should be cleaned or replaced at least every two years. Longer than that, and pathogens such as chalkbrood and hairy- fingered mites can build up to high enough levels that the nest becomes more like a bee death trap. Having so many tunnels close together makes it easy for pathogens to spread through the whole nest if le unchecked. 
We never suspected the diversity of native bees; about 400 live in Minnesota; and there's a handbook for managing alternative pollinators. We like food, we enjoy flowers, especially wildflowers, and we're learning to forage some native foods. Trying to help out native pollinators seems like a wise move. Now we need to research whether the wildflower seeds we bought last Autumn needed to be left out during the Winter or if we can reasonable expect a modicum of success if we sow those seeds this Spring. Between starting with native pollinators and returning to our study of aquatic entomology related to fly fishing for trout, we expect to be more than a little buggy over the next several months. Of course, most of that depends on whether or not we ever cease to get immoderate snowfalls.

Letter to Someone Living Fifty Years from Now


Most likely, you think we hated the elephant,
the golden toad, the thylacine and all variations
of whale harpooned or hacked into extinction.

It must seem like we sought to leave you nothing
but benzene, mercury, the stomachs
of seagulls rippled with jet fuel and plastic.

You probably doubt that we were capable of joy,
but I assure you we were.

We still had the night sky back then,
and like our ancestors, we admired
its illuminated doodles
of scorpion outlines and upside-down ladles.

Absolutely, there were some forests left!
Absolutely, we still had some lakes!

I’m saying, it wasn’t all lead paint and sulfur dioxide.
There were bees back then, and they pollinated
a euphoria of flowers so we might
contemplate the great mysteries and finally ask,
“Hey guys, what’s transcendence?”

And then all the bees were dead.


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