I was sitting on a boat in the middle of Friday Harbor, San Juan Island the first of July. The weather was glorious after a somewhat tenuous start to the summer. Ferry traffic dodged the pleasure boaters sailing in and out of the harbor though the bay was relatively calm and uncrowded. I secured the anchor, climbed in the tender, and made my way to shore.
I am a walker. I try to do four to five miles a day. When I am on the boat during the summer I either go ashore and walk the logging roads (with an eye to black bears), walk the local less trafficked roads of the settled islands, or use my peddle-kayak to simulate a long stroll.
That day, it was San Juan Island. It has beautiful country roads that criss-cross its lazy, low hills. That time of year, the road sides were thick with wildflowers: buttercups, daisies, dandelions, poppies, clover and thistles. The fragrance is a great companion to any walker. But something was missing.
Over the course of my four day stay in the harbor, I walked over twenty miles on the island and not ONE bee did I see. The height of summer bloom and nothing buzzed about. I passed miles, literally, of blackberry bushes, all heavy in bloom….yet no bees.
Some speculate that multiple causes have hit the bees all at once like a blizzard and they simply can’t cope. I wonder if it could be similar to the ever increasing stresses of human life: too much information, too fast; too many choices to assimilate and order; information overload.
Could the humble yet vital honey bee be sacrificing itself in order to send a message to mankind?