Now hear this. Count your bees. It's that simple—and then let the Bee-a-Thon know your results. Go here for more.

And even if you don't, why not take a little time today to think about bees. Do you have as many as you had last year? More? Less? What about other creatures in the garden? It doesn't hurt to check.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. I think about bees and their enemies of poisons like systemics killing them.
    Buy poison when you shop along the freeway at box stores.

  2. Sigh. I think about bees when the city plans to fog to eradicate mosquitoes. I am not a fan of West Nile virus, but when I am out among the salvia and mimulus and tomatoes and gaura, I sure wish I was seeing more of what I am thinking about.

  3. They spray here in New Orleans – not only trucks but small planes too – but if you have a hive you can notify the department and they will remove your area. I suppose other municipalities do the same?

  4. A number of gardening friends have confirmed our experience this year seeing few ladybugs and wasps and almost zero honey bees. We have had loads of each beneficial insect in past years in our half acre of flower gardens.
    My question for all of us is how do we determine that this is a real long term problem or just a result of one year’s screwy weather. Is the bee count an indicator of what is happening to other species? Probably not. Who counts wasps? Who counts ladybugs? This stuff is very scary to us.

  5. Our honey bees and other native bees and wasps are doing really well here in Delaware. Ever since I stopped mowing the lawn (which doesn’t look raggedy, like some people might think) the only high patches of lawn are covered in clover that the honey bees just love! I haven’t been seeing butterflies this year though.

  6. One of my neighbors sells honey and I don’t do anything that would harm bees, so I hope there are more out there than I see (any given year). I do have plenty of bumblebees and wasps.
    I do think about bees every time I see a billboard with a pest company ad offering to control stink bugs.

  7. I have a small amount of bees in my own yard, but less than a mile away in a section of New Orleans City Park – there is an abundance of buzzing bees in our butterfly garden at the entrance.
    Having grown up in southern Louisiana, I’m all to familiar with the trucks that fog through our streets to kill mosquitoes. It seems mosquitoes have adapted to this method as it has little if any impact on mosquitoes. If I do not spray my legs with repellent before going outside – within 10 mins., I’m covered in bites.
    Regarding other creatures, there are many new additions: gangs of bright green Automeris IO, Swallowtail & Gulf Fritillary caterpillars; various toads, frogs, newts & anoles. Coolest addition: the carnivorous Rosy wolfsnail!

  8. While I applaud the Bee-A-Thon people for raising awareness about bees and the environment, and encouraging people to be stewards of whatever patch of earth they have control over (which seems to be the main purpose for what they are doing here), I am a little concerned about their assertion that they are creating a base-line of data which can be used to generate dollars for research and conservation. A bee count is a great way to get people thinking about the issues, but is not exactly grounded in science. Choosing a specific date to count bees on each year doesn’t take into account annual fluctuations in season, for example (ie., this year we had a really late, cool Spring in the northwest, so bees and other insects and wildlife were late to emerge; but they are still there in large numbers, although if you counted them at the wrong time, it might not seem so). Human variation in counting techniques, weather variations, etc. all make for squishy numbers. My concern is that people will take this data as “proof” of their assumptions about climate, bee populations and conservation, rather than the anecdotal evidence that it is. It reminds me of those questionnaires that are sent out through direct mail by charities trying to solicit donations: “Tell us what you think about this, that and the other, and now that you’re aware of our concerns, please feel free to donate to our cause” (although these people aren’t asking for money from the participants yet, I don’t think).

    Also noticed that there are no entomologists on their team; it mostly seems to be gardeners (including Master Gardener), media and tourism folks. They should be careful about playing the scientific data card.

  9. I have seen no bees this year in our high desert community. None. Nobody anywhere near here is using any systemics nor is there any mosquito abatement programs.

  10. I’m all for bees and bee counting, and loving bees and not using pesticides that kill bees. But if I see one more goddamned tweet or post about this bee-a-thon business I’m gonna crack.

  11. I am happy to report that I have more bees in my garden this year than ever before. I have no idea why, but I love seeing them. Visiting our garden are honey bees, big fat fuzzy black and yellow bees, and tiny little bees. I love watching the honey bees stuff their pollen baskets so full on the sun flowers that it causes them to waddle!

  12. A bee attractant is sorbaria and sorbus . The blossoms smell like dead flesh.
    The sorbaria along today’s walking path went over the edge hanging over the sidewalk and was humming with bees.

  13. I am shocked at how FEW polinators we have this year. I have to search to find honey bees. A neighbor remarked on how we don’t have any butterflies this year. I haven’t seen a single Lady Bug.

    We don’t use insecticides and this year I specifically allowed some weeds to bloom and planted annuals to attract bees, but they seem to be gone.

    Very disturbing. I knew it was bad, but when it hits my own back yard it terrifies me.

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