Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blustery blast belts bees, blooms

About a month ago I gloated about the early onset of spring at the ranch and extended some watery sympathies to the folks still huddled in their igloos up north, including my hometown of Chicago.

God has smitten me for my callousness and hubris: It feels as if She's turned the clock back two months, to the very end of winter.

Over the past two weeks we've had unseasonably cold temperatures including a couple of below-freezing nights. One morning we woke up to twenty-nine degrees, followed by four consecutive grayish, clammy, depressing days that looked too much like winter's last throes up north.

Over lunch with a friend yesterday we groused about how fed up we were with all the gloomy weather. But then he recalled forty-nine consecutive cloudy days in Rome while he was studying there and Stew and I remembered one year in Chicago when the sun didn't come out during the entire month of February.

Maybe it's not so bad here. The sun came out yesterday and is in full-force today.

The freezing temperatures however did some serious damage to the plants. Buds, green shoots, foliage and flowers, all singing the arrival of spring one day woke up brown the next as if they'd been singed by a glancing blow torch.

The promising crop of about thirty or forty young peaches shriveled and fell on the ground. Three dozen small nursery plants we had put out just two days before got zapped, though there's enough green growth left on them to hope they'll come back. Six tomato seedlings definitely won't come back along with four small chile plants Félix had coddled along as if they were his dearest babies.

We've got more seedlings going, so eventually we'll have tomatoes, chiles, cucumbers, squash and all that, but three or four weeks later than we had hoped.

Also missing are the bees, which had been madly strafing the early bumper crop of huizache and other flowers. In town someone noticed dead bees on floor of his terrace and the alarm went off through the Civil List, the expat internet bulletin board, that something wrong—very, very wrong—was afoot. Not much later, someone posted an announcement blaming cell phones and cell phone towers for the unfolding apian holocaust, not only here but worldwide. Others cursed pesticide use by farmers near San Miguel. Yet another person projected a scenario in which fruits and other crops could be fatally affected forever by the absence of bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Buzzing in the inside: Actually
the hive has grown to triple
the original size, with the
addition of two extra boxes on top.
 
The discovery of some dead bees grew into a rolling environmental debacle that could kills us all.

¡Ay Dios mio! I asked Félix if he'd heard anything in beekeeping classes about these dire prospects. No, but he rattled off three or four other horrible pests and calamities that could affect bees. One particular type of plague can only be eradicated by burning the beehive down to the ground—bees, honeycombs and all. Thanks, Félix.

Finally, this morning Stew spoke with Bee Bob, our local fountainhead of credible, if sometimes garbled, information about bees.

Not to worry, he said. It was the sudden cold that knocked off so many bees and the subsequent cloudy days that kept the survivors in the hives, probably buzzing double-time trying to keep warm. The freezing temperatures also had caused widespread damage to leaf crops around San Miguel and the neighboring state of Querétaro.

So there's nothing to do for now except to wait for the bees to poke their antennae out of the hive and resume their rounds around the ranch which now looks considerably more somber and subdued. As for the rest of the landscape that was struck numb by the sudden freeze, that'll take a little longer, but it will come back I'm sure.

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5 comments:

  1. I just realized I wasn't among your followers! So, I tried to become a follower. Not sure if I did it right.....hope so.

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  2. The Jeremiahs are always with us. Natural occurrences turn into harbingers of doom at the drop of a -- bee.

    I am currently enjoying my cool, but refreshing, days in Bend before I return to the tropical heat. Just waiting for summer to head into your cool mountains.

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  3. ay Dios mio!!! great post al, as always, i really enjoy reading your blog. some people will always make a mountain out of a molehill-hmmm, do we have a similar saying in spanish? anyway, i am sure the bee man was right and it won't be the end of the world because some bees died during a cold snap.

    on friday i went to a fertility festival-i'll send some pix soon and of my new boyfriends, actually, 4 legged critters-perros. how i love cats and dogs but can't have any where we live. oh well, we sure do love it here. the plum trees are in full bloom and the cherries will be blossoming soon.

    our kids are coming for a visit next month, life couldn't get better, unless of course i could have some pets ;-)

    take care,

    teresa in nagoya

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  4. A dear friend has a great saying that applies perfectly to your situation.

    God hates cocky.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we are getting pelted with late-winter, early-spring snowstorms that drop lots of wet, heavy snow. Ugh!

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  5. Loved the headline - does that pay homage to any particular newspaper or editor?

    ReplyDelete