The climate is changing, and conditions are moving toward the extremes. Careful measurements of the earth’s air and oceans are being conducted, and evidence of the change is visible in numerous areas. Some of the results of climate change are quite subtle. This year’s white clover, which secretes nectar heavily between 80 and 90 degrees, produced less than normal nectar as the thermometer quickly surpassed the 90 degree mark. Birds of the tropics ventured farther into more temperate regions. The Arkansas Delta saw birds this summer not typically found in this region. Among rarely seen visitors to the Peace Farm bird sanctuary were a pair of black-bellied whistling ducks, seen in today’s photo. Expanding populations and improved habitat may be responsible for unusual bird sightings; however, warming climate may have an effect as well. One of the most glaring signs of the earth’s climate change is the melting of glaciers. A piece in The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/opinion/sunday/17drought.html, describes the hot and dry weather conditions experienced across America’s southern states. The result has been massive wildfires and water shortages. The Times piece even suggests that portions of the region may become permanently arid, a condition beyond temporary drought conditions. The availability of water is expected to be of increasing concern. Permanent changes in climate will have a significant effect on agriculture and cities. There will be greater demands for water for human use as well as for livestock and irrigation of crops. The changes in climate and available water will affect the quality and amount of forage for honey bees and native pollinators. With a changing environment, the honey bees must adapt in order to survive. The more genetic diversity among the bees, the more likely they will fit in.
Today, Tod and I traveled to the University of Tennessee, Martin Campus to help judge the beekeeping and entomology students in Tennessee’s 4-H Roundup competition. The high school students were quite impressive for their knowledge, efforts, and accomplishments.--Richard