Honeybees, alive and well on Goose Creek. Click to enlarge

Luckily, while I am nursing the recuperating wrist and hand, I’m still ambulatory. The problem is, when I  walk will outside, I immediately see something that I need to do that  I can’t.  Maybe that’s good; I’m more prone to be content simply to stand around and take things in, rather than to be driven to get things done.

Yesterday, I got no farther than the patch of grass between the garden and the road: it had sprung up almost overnight in dandelion blooms, and it occurred to me that we live in such a place that we are content——even happy——to have these growing in our lawn. It reminds me of some of the obsessive homeowners in places where we have lived, who would literally weed their grass one square foot at a the time with tweezers to remove these offending weeds.

And yesterday, our crop of sunny grass- embedded flowers were abuzz with more honeybees than I’ve seen in a decade! This is very encouraging since colony collapse disorder continues to ravage the populations of this critical pollinator.  Some summers, I have seen none,  and most I’ve seen only one or two together in the garden or pasture. Yesterday there were dozens!

So what’s a one-handed man to do in the face of this photo—op? Of course, I had to try to get a picture, so I ran inside for the Canon Power Shot, and discovered that, since this little camera is so light, I’m easily able to support it long enough to squeeze off a shot.

With this kind of population, there must be a hive not far away. Since I’m pretty much worthless for anything else, maybe I’ll try to see which direction they fly when they leave our dandelion patch, and follow them to the honey!

This is encouraging: the newly observed behavior in these may represent away they have discovered to protect themselves from the effect of toxic pollen, The attempt is often unsuccessful in preventing the ultimate collapse of the hive.


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. That little camera works well!! One reason you might be seeing more bees is beekeepers replenishing their hives. My next-door neighbor has two hives. Their inhabitants didn’t make it through the winter and she just received new bees. Now they’re all in their new homes getting ready for our azaleas and other terrific blooms. Looking forward to seeing them out there doing their thing — and to enjoying the honey later. They did a great job last year.

  2. That Canon Powershot does great macro work! The article about entombing the bad pollen was very interesting.