I live in the Las Sendas area, which backs up to a desert that was once owned by a family of fruit orchard growers and beekeepers. The family sold the land to a developer and after we built our house here there was a swarm of bees that took over our pool the first summer. The bees would drink and take water back to their hives. Trying not to disturb the delicate balance of nature, I made a deal with the bees that if they didn’t bother me, I wouldn’t eliminate them. The bees returned daily and spent most of the summer days using the water to make what is similar to a swamp cooler for their hives. They deposit and fan the water to cool their hives during the long summer’s extreme heat.
Even though the farmers are long gone, the bees still have the memory of where to get water, thus they return to their original spot, which is now my backyard pool. Most of my neighbors have saltwater pools so they’ve never had any problems with bees in their pools. It’s only the non-salt chlorinated pools that the bees revisit.
During the first year we had around eighty honeybees on a daily basis getting water. In year two, the bees didn’t show up, but the year after they returned. After years of living here, I realized the bees have a two-year return pattern, which means every other year they come back to our pool for water. This may be instinctive to their survival, but every summer there has been less and less bees and this summer 2011, there have only been two bees at any given time. I find this interesting because there were no bees to pollinate my tomato or other vegetable plants in my garden this spring and summer. Where have they gone?
After some research, I found out that as of January 2011 the US Bumble bee has lost 96% of its population. This includes the four major US species of bumble bees which are: the rusty-patched eastern Bumble bee, yellow banded Bumble bee of the northeastern region, Midwest and Canada, the Franklin Bumble bee in southern Oregon and northern California and the Western Bumble bee of the western US and British Columbia.
Scientists believe the causes are from herbicides, pesticides and genetically modified foods. With this severe decrease in bee population, how will the world’s food chain be affected? Will there be a future food shortage? Will the price of fresh produce be something that will no longer be affordable? Keeping these issues in mind, we could all start becoming more aware of our environment and use only safe, non-toxic and environmentally friendly products. In the mean time, I'll save the bees that fall into the pool and hope they don’t become extinct in my lifetime.