My Little Sick Bee ~ April 23, 2012


The bees are “bee-coming” my new obsession.  I have had them for 13 days now and my morning routine has incorporated a new daily “buzz” along with my cup of coffee.   Listening to them waking up as the spring rays of sunshine warm their home and watching as a brave little forager peeks out and flies off into the sky…soon to “bee” whereabouts unknown.

Thus begins my new worry!  I found a little bee outside the hive this morning.  She was still alive, but obviously affected by the chill air.  I scooped her up in my hand (no, they don’t sting unless they feel threatened) and took her inside to give her a dose of sugar water in hopes it might revive her.  Watching her closely though, I became concerned as I noticed she seemed to have difficulty moving her back legs – almost like they had become partially paralyzed.  She also kept wiping her antennae and face, going over and over her eyes again with her forelegs like she was trying to clean something off that I couldn’t see. 

Sadly, I placed her in a plastic dish with some tissues and set her in a warm corner of the kitchen.  Fearing that my efforts to help her were in vain, I set out for a morning walk to get some fresh air.  The sun was out, hopefully forecasting a good day

Rounding the last corner in my neighborhood walk, I noticed a strange odor in the air and saw someone spraying a driveway.  Taking a detour to investigate, I asked the people working what they were spraying.   The lawn company owner told me it was “a generic brand of Round-UP. “  He assured me that it was totally safe and wouldn’t hurt anything.  “Everyone uses it!”  But I wondered more about this as I walked home.  The driveway angled right down to the ocean.  Even if the active ingredient, glyphosate could be stable in soil, what other ingredients had been mixed in to act as a wetting agent.  Often times, these supposedly “inert” ingredients are as harmful or more harmful than the active ones.  Some mix the glyphosate with surfactants which are very harmful when they get into marine ecosystems and dangerous for bees that might come into contact with them. 

Back at the house, I thought more about these chemicals in our environment.  What about my little bee that was sick?  Had she visited a site where someone had sprayed toxic chemicals?  I probably won’t know where she traveled (they can visit area between 5-8 miles from their hive) or what made her sick, but I felt awful that she was obviously in distress and there was nothing I could do to help her.  Maybe though, someone reading this will change their habits and help out our friends, the bees.  But not only bees…birds, fish, and other living things that share our environment will benefit when we begin to change.  Weeds in our driveways will seem silly one day when we don’t have fruits or vegetables to eat or clean water to drink.

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About "BUGGING" YOU FROM FRIDAY HARBOR!

I love beetles and keep bees! In my free time, I enjoy photography (mostly bugs) and documenting insect species found on San Juan Island. I have limited availability for local, onsite beekeeping consultation and hive inspection, honey bee removal/swarm collection as well as phone/skype consultation. Contact me at cyndibrast@me.com Member Washington State Beekeepers Association
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