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OT: weather and bees

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

Dennis, I'd like to see a little of that heavy rain here in Southside
Virginia.  We are settling into our drought pattern of predicted rains
petering out before they reach us, or of thundershowers bypassing us
completely.  We are already low on soil moisture because of the drought
last summer and a fairly dry winter and spring.  The last few days have
been warm (80s) and windy, causing significant drying. The effects of the
very dry summer are clearly seen in my woodland garden, where pulmonarias,
epimediums and such are not putting on much of a show.  However, we had
good bloom on the drought-resistant hellebores.

I'm sure many of you have noticed the dearth of honeybees in your region.
Flowering shrubs that would have been teeming with buzzing bees ten years
ago are strangely silent this spring, and have been increasingly so for the
last few years.  There also seem to be far fewer bumblebees this spring.  A
plague of mites has decimated honeybee populations, and indiscriminate use
of pesticides is hurting the bumbles (systemic pesticides get translocated
to pollen, which the bees use to feed their larvae).  Meanwhile, our native
(mostly stingless) bees have been nearly wiped out by habitat destruction
and pesticides.

Pollination of our crops is an important function of all of these bees.
Look for food prices to continue to rise, for this and other reasons.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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