Thursday, May 28, 2009

Short On Pollinators

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another wet morning here on the mountain with up to 4" of rain predicted by tomorrow about the same time. We need rain but this is a little too much too fast and I expect the runoff will cause the river to rise quickly--something that gives me a big headache. We pump water from the Winooski River and the pump is located 25 feet above the riverbed but the river is narrow there. We went through a similar situation last year and I had to pull the pump to avoid it being washed down the river. Not difficult to do but a bear to carry a pump hitched to a pressure tank up a steep clay bank. Gail will be watching the situation and will call if things begin to look challenging.

I cannot remember a spring when the apple trees, both native and domestic, have been so well covered with flowers. Although they have begun to fall due to yesterday's rain, they have been beautiful every place I have traveled.

The part that bothered me again this year was the profound absence of bees. One morning I went out and looked at this sargentii crab and around and around it I walked looking and listening for bees. I finally spotted a lone bumble bee and then two hours later returned to find a large number hard at work along with some smaller bees I am not familiar with. Nowhere was a honeybee to be found so something obviously happened to the neighbor's hives down the road. Wild honey bees have been absent for years so even the sight of a domestic bee is heartwarming to someone who understands the need for pollinators.

Rowan Jacobsen's book, Fruitless Fall, is a book I continue to promote because very much like my favorite Silent Spring it mentions chemicals and what we are doing that cannot easily be returned to normal. As you think about buying some lawn food or bug killers, give the issue of pollution and the demise of beneficial insect and animal populations a second thought. Just the thought of white nose syndrome in bats and the loss of hundreds of thousands of these beneficial mammals should makes us wonder how we have upset certain balances. ???

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where I'd still like to find the nesting site of the pair of mature osprey who forget to say thank you on a daily basis as they eat trout from the pond.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Gardens
Vermont Flower Farm Our great site which contains pictures of hostas that look better today than the real plants that have been nailed two Mondays in a row by heavy frosts. Stop by and make your own judgment


Benjamin Vogt said...

I'd have to say even out here in Nebraska (or should I say especially out here with all our dusted fields and BT corn) there have only been a few lone bumblebees and moths. That's it. Not even monarchs yet. Very quiet, except the birds seem to be much more numerous this year even though it's drier. I'm gonna go check out your book suggestion--though I've read about 100 in the last year (yes indeed) might as well toss in another one to the pile by the bed.

George Africa said...

Hello Benjamin;

I appreciate comments from around the country so I can compare to what's going on here. Tiger Swallowtail butterflies are synonymous with Memorial Day in this part of Vermont. I'm happy to say that they are in their typical abundance, working diligently on the James MacFarland lilac by the back door and gathering by puddles to drink.

In contrast I can understand the BT corn and the genetic Green Mountain and Kennebec potatoes which don't taste the least bit like I remember as a kid. In a few weeks I'll go to Maine for a few days and I'll stop at the Rachael Carson Refuge and pull out Silent Spring and read a page here and there. I always see good change like the osprey eating trout from my pond but there's a lot left to do.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener