Hot and Dry- How will the climate affect the bees?

I can't believe I let over a month go without posting! We are finished with the second part of the three part field season. Since we split our field sites, this means that I have now personally visited all 35 of our farms and gardens, and I've stayed at some really beautiful campgrounds! The hot, dry summer has meant that a lot of farmers and gardeners in the Puget Sound region have seen accelerated plant growth and development through their reproductive cycles.

Knee-high by the 4th of July? This corn was eye-high by the 3rd!

Knee-high by the 4th of July? This corn was eye-high by the 3rd!

We've seen a lot of flowers that don't normally bloom in full until September getting their flowers out here in July! Many of the plants are also dropping their flowers early, which is resulting in reduced fruit set and less floral resources for the bees. The Stranger recently posted a great article about how the weather is affecting growers.  I've noticed bees congregating in wet areas, such as around hose connections where there are small leaks. Bees commonly fill their water requirements through the nectar they drink, but if the flowers aren't getting enough water to produce the nectar, the bees will get it where they can.

Honeybees drinking water from the soil. 

Honeybees drinking water from the soil. 

If the bees are unable to acquire their water from the nectar and must spend time drinking from the soil, they are spending less time visiting flowers. This will directly reduce the amount of pollination services they provide. I don't know yet if we are seeing reduced abundance or diversity due to the weather, but it is something we will continue to track.