I’m almost finished reading The Beekeeper’s Lament, which chronicles one large-scale migrant beekeeper’s journey through the changing agriculture and hive demands, the relatively recent colony collapse that could have wiped out the honeybee population, and the implications of centralized production. As a result of reading that book and Ashley English’s Keeping Bees, I’ve come down with a bad case of bee fascination. Did you know, for example, that bees are responsible in one way or another for one-third the food we eat? It’s a lot to put on a tiny insect.
Knowing that we were *this* close to losing these little workers during the colony collapse of the last decade made it more exciting to see their activity this spring and summer. The prolific clover alive with bees in early summer let me continue to justify our weedy lawn. And it’s been fun seeing the many-years-old lavender weighted down and alive with honeybee and bumblebee activity. Not only is this activity fascinating to watch, but once the bees are hanging out at the lavender, it’s a short hop to the little vegetable garden on the side of our driveway, where they can get to work pollinating our melons and pumpkins.
Thanks, little fellas.
Speaking of the little garden on the side of our driveway, ever since Phil expanded it, I’ve wondered whether the neighbors would mind our so visibly growing vegetables out front. Mind you, we don’t live in one of those neighborhoods where we get tut-tutted and waved a copy of the association by-laws if we leave out an errant trash can. But nevertheless, I don’t want to be the eyesore neighbor. So I planted a little row of sunflowers at the head of our driveway plot, just to pretty it a little. As the sunflowers have matured, we’ve noticed that the birds have found them. Which is pretty stinking cool. Phil and I both have come out to find a bright yellow finch perched on top of a seeded flower, working out the seeds.
(The squirrel that rips flowers off that aren’t even seeded yet, and then scatters the petals and leaves around our yard like carcasses, is not so welcome. We’ve got our eyes on you, mister.)
Overall, I feel like my time spent in the garden needs to result in food. I’d much rather toil over some heirloom tomatoes than a rosebush. That’s just me. But it’s been really heartening to remember that plants put in merely for their beauty, and not to harvest, can still provide food for some of our little buddies.