Saturday, March 22, 2014

Blessed Bees...Where Are They?

Ah, spring! A young man's thoughts turn to love, and a middle-aged woman's turn to the necessity of regular leg-shaving, lest her extremities resemble those of a gorilla. 

Despite their unorthodox candlelit planting, all five of my blueberry bushes are thus far thriving, and all are blooming.  But not a single bee, bumbling from blossom to blossom, have I spotted.  I saw one ginormous carpenter bee today, vainly poking at the vinyl siding on my house, and a couple of huge hornets, which I chased away from my porch with a combination of chemicals (from Lysol to Goof-Off--I just grabbed whatever came easiest to hand), but no ordinary honeybees.  Without bees, I will be blueberryless--the plants have to cross-pollinate.  I may be obsessive-compulsive, but I can easily resist the urge to get out a tiny paintbrush and do this by hand.  Several hundred times.  I know that there is a disease out there devastating American commercial hives, but I had hoped that the ordinary wild bees would be buzzing around anyway. 

What to do?  I fell asleep Thursday night thinking about the possibility of getting my own queen (you can order them by mail--they come in little boxes), and setting her up in a hive in my back yard.  Having my own source of honey would be fantastic!  But I was awoken Friday morning by the sound of the neighborhood-contracted yard service mowing the grass outside my window, and it occurred to me that beehives and commercial lawn mowers don't mix well.  I could visualize, too easily, some unfortunate landscaper getting stung to death by defending workers (sadly for alliteration, the drones don't have stingers), and me getting stung deeper into insolvency by a massive lawsuit.

So, for now, I am just hoping other insects will do the pollination job.  There are certainly enough plant gnats around, since I moved affected greenery outside (they are about the size of fruit flies, and had set up shop in the soil of my mother's houseplants).  Thankfully, there are few of the conventional gnat swarms--Augusta tends to be above the Georgia "gnat line"--and I've only had to confront one fly so far (I slew it with my Bug-A-Salt table-salt loaded pump shotgun, which was great fun--true to its marketing, the instrument's blast of NaCl did not "splatter fly").  Still, I am waiting for the bees to get off their fuzzy little behinds and busy themselves at my blueberry bushes!  Somebody's leg hairs ought to be put to good use in the springtime!

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