|This is not the meme - this is one of my favorite honeybee pics from this 2012 post. Every spring, I let a few of my back yard winter garden vegetable plants bolt (go to flower) just so I can watch the bees. This is a broccoli.|
|Mounds of dead bees, skulls and crossbones, predictions of the End Times, impenetrable statistics... it's all out there on the internet, just waiting to foul up your perspective.|
So my meme (given at the end of this post) addresses this by visually incorporating imagery depicting two very practical end-member results: Bees vs. no bees.
In my case, it wasn't colony collapse disorder that gave me an opportunity to photograph these extremes - it was the 2014 polar vortex, which wreaked havoc on our normal seasonal progression into spring here in greater Houston Texas. Basically what happened is that, by sun angle and calendar date, many plants concluded that it was time to flower. But by prevailing severely cold weather, the wild bees decided that there was no way they were setting foot (or wing) outside their hives.
|And this was the initial result for my blueberry plants. What you see here is one bedraggled blueberry on the end of a stalk that contains mostly withered brown flowers, which are the ones that did not get pollinated. Only one flower of many got lucky because this little portion of the plant happened to flower while it was still too cold for the bees to come out. |
Blueberries are particularly sensitive to pollination. They don't self-pollinate, they need different varieties available within about 100 feet of each other so that they can exchange genetic information, and bees need to do the work. Commercial growers achieve good pollination by bringing bee hives to their fields while their plants are flowering. They typically don't rely on natural bee populations like we hobby gardeners do in the suburbs.
Fortunately, blueberry bushes flower over the course of several weeks, and the weather warmed up enough in the intervening time for the bees to finally come out, which they did in abundance. And this was the typical result for portions of the bushes that flowered later:
Again, I want to stress the fact that no actual colony collapse led to the differences you see in the photos above. Our local wild bees initially stayed away because of the unusual cold weather. But a lack of bees due to widespread colony collapse would be expected to produce a similar effect.