Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Parker Heinlein
Outdoors Columnist 

Where have the bees gone


August 21, 2019

I’d read the stories about vanishing honeybees, but didn’t put much stock in them. I was still seeing plenty of bees.

Now all of a sudden I’m not.

Last year when I’d walk close to my caragana hedge it was abuzz with a low hum. Not this year. There wasn’t a honeybee to be heard or seen among the yellow blossoms. In my sweet corn patch only a couple of bees flit from tassle to tassle doing their work.

At the lake where miles of clover lines the shore and the slightest breeze used to push bees out over the lake and into our boat while we fished, the only thing riding the wind these days is the sweet smell.

I’ve heard the dire warnings about vanishing species and ecological collapse, herbicide-resistant super weeds, and overuse of pesticides, but I figured that was someone else’s problem. We’re safe from all that here in Montana, weren’t we?

Apparently not.

Recently we heard that Roundup doesn’t simply kill weeds, it also causes cancer. It’s not a stretch to believe that pesticides might kill more than pests.

It’s been a strange year. Winter was late in coming and stayed too long after it finally arrived. The Chinese elms didn’t put out any seed in the spring, and the rain keeps falling -- almost monsoonal at times – even though it’s August. Now it appears summer has ended a month early.

Maybe there’s something to this climate change after all.

I mentioned that to an acquaintance last week after a storm dumped nearly five inches of rain on the cabin overnight. He responded that he’d seen it all before.

“It rained like that when I was a kid,” he told me, his memory obviously better than mine. “That climate change is just them liberals.”

I hope so. Then the bees will be back next year, the Chinese elm will go to seed and it won’t rain so much. We can quit worrying about our actions having any effect on the planet and stick our heads back in the sand.

But I do have a theory about the bees.

A neighbor claims to have seen walleyes feeding on honeybees in the flooded clover last summer. Maybe they ate all of them.

Instead of worrying, however, I’m rigging up a fly rod and looking to tie a bee pattern. It’s the least I can do to save the planet.

Parker Heinlein is at [email protected]


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