Where are the Bees?

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The dandelions are in bloom. Where are the bees?

I worry about the bees disappearing. We have apple trees in bloom, but without our  pollinators, we won’t get apples. It’s one of the reasons we don’t spray for dandelions—the emerging bees first food. And I let some of the bees favorite foods alone–like my Nepeta Walker’s Low, which is always crowded with bees.

This time last year, our dandies were covered in bees. Had to be careful where we stepped to avoid squashing a bee—or being stung.

This year, searching for bees, all I found was the one you see in the photo. Why?

The reason must be our cold spring. Bees don’t “work” when the temperature is below 57 F, and the daytime highs in March and most of April have been below 55F. Too cold for bees.

I found this bee last Saturday, a day when the temperature reached closed to 80. Hopefully, they’re not gone. They’re just waiting till it warms up.

For interesting information about pesticides and bees, check out this article from the Kansas State Research and Extension.

With bees disappearing, the one thing we all can do is stop spraying our lawns. Please.







Do you see that frilly leafed plant at the bottom of the photo? Unless I miss my guess, that’s Nepeta (Catmint) Walker’s Low. It has a lovely blue flower and a musty smell. When in bloom, bees and butterflies will cover it, making it difficult for an insect-phobic human like me to get close enough to weed.

Fifteen years ago, I planted a tiny Walker’s Low plant that in five years’ time grew so large it took over a third of my front flower bed.  In the fall of 2008, I spent three days ripping it out.  I dug deep and then deeper to get every bit of root.

Or so I thought.

Now it’s 2018 and if my powers of identification are correct, here it comes again. Out of the ground, like the unwanted dead haunting my garden. Not quite sure what I’ll do. Tear it out? Leave it, having learned to prune it back—severely—every fall? Whatever I do, I gotta admire its persistence.

This past year, I’ve had my own lessons in persistence. I’ve been a technical writer for many years but always wanted to write dark fiction.

Fantasy. Horror. Paranormal (gasp) romance.

But I didn’t just want to write stuff and put it away in a box or on a flash drive for posterity. I wanted to publish. In my lifetime.

Last year, I decided it was time to figure out how. Without burdening you (at least not yet) with all the details, I stumbled upon a fabulous coach who taught me what my Walker’s Low already knew. Keep at it. Do the work. Show up. Persist.

After 14 months of alternating between discouragement and determination, I have two short stories, publication forthcoming sometime this summer. Stay tuned…

Spring Means Dandelions and Dandelions Mean Bees


Our TV is alive with commercials about beautiful green lawns and the annual attack on dandelions and crabgrass. Now, I know nothing about crabgrass other than our ‘lawn’ is full of it. With about four acres to mow, we’re happy if the yard looks green from the street.

But dandelions … In about two weeks, our yard will be covered in sunshine yellow. Jim used to bemoan the size of the yard and the impossibility of treating it for dandelions. Or he did, back in the day. The day before bee deaths hit the news. The day before I took an Extension Master Gardener course and came home with the announcement that, at least in Kansas, the first feast for bees in early spring was dandelions. 

Yesterday, I was outside trying to get my front landscape garden into some kind of decent shape prior to a garage sale (see end note). The driveway was lined with dandelions, each sporting its own bee.  Maybe honey bees. I’m not great at identifying types of insects.

The sight of bees on dandelions gave me pause, remembering the little mantra I was taught by Master Gardener friends. “Five years after the bees disappear, the birds disappear. And five years after the birds disappear, humans disappears.” 

Now I had to ask. Was this fake information?

I hit the Internet and found out that, yes. Losing the bees would be an ecological disaster. We need them as pollinators, and we’d lose many different types of plants–think coffee–without the bees.

And losing the birds, meant losing both pollinators and seed carriers, getting different plants from one place to another. Oh, and gone birds meant we’d be without bad bug eaters–think locusts. Not to mention the carrion eaters that clear our highways of roadkill.

But I couldn’t find anything that said first the bees, then the birds, then us.

Several sites mentioned a supposed quote from Einstein who reportedly said either, first the bees, then us. OR first the bees, then within four years, us. But did he say it? Maybe not.

For me, I guess it doesn’t matter. The sight of dandelions in the yard is a cheerful one. I’m not a big proponent of carpet-like green lawns, and anyway, how many turf photos have been touched-up? Like the impossibly beautiful women and men in magazines, the garden photos I drool over seem too perfect to be real.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the next time you take out your sprayer of lawn herbicide, check the label (you should do that anyway), and think about what the bees will eat this spring if the dandelions are gone.

End Note: Live in Kansas? Near Louisburg? We’re downsizing because it’s time. Huge sale: Wednesday, April 18, 3-7pm, Thursday and Friday, 9-4pm, and Saturday if anything’s left, 9am-12noon.