And live alone in the bee-loud glade
Yeats ~ The Lake Isle of Innisfree
This summer has been notable for the great reduction in the usual wealth of wild visitors. The incessant call of the chiff-chaff has been entirely missing. So has the scythe-winged swift soaring gracefully in the high heavens. The number of swallows and martins has been down to around only a third of what I usually see swooping and swerving, climbing and chasing in the mad melee of the feeding frenzy. Butterfly numbers have been little more than about 20% of normal, and my favourite butterfly – the Red Admiral – has failed to augment the beauty of the flowers with its black and orange livery at all. Fortunately, the bees have been as prolific as ever, both in terms of quantity and the number of species, but here’s what’s odd:
They’re not making any noise. On a warm summer’s day like today, when almost every flower head has one or more bees gorging on the nectar, the garden is awash with the soporific drone of buzzing. It’s usually one of the delights of summer. This year – nothing.
So why have the bees fallen silent?