It is not the image of a bee either. It is some kind of bumblebee. The fact is, I have not seen a regular honeybee in my garden for years, now. They seem to have all but disappeared. In fact, they have.
The Colony Collapse Disorder is sending our friends the bees the same way of the dodo. It is not clear what is causing the disease, but it is capable to suddenly wipe out entire colonies (Pennsilvania lost 53% of its honeybee colonies in the 1995-96 season alone). This is an insect that is crucial for us: not just for the honey they produce, but because they are our main pollinator insect. For some species of flowering plants, the only pollinator. No bees, no fruit. It is estimated that bees pollination is responsible for more than $15 billion in increased crop value each year. And bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. While it is not entirely clear what is happening, recent research suggests that the culprit could be a class of pesticide, nicotinoids, that affect bees by lowering their immune response and affecting their homing abilities. These pesticides have been recently banned in some european states in an effort to try saving their colonies.
I've just discovered that I shouldn't use Hepburn romanization (with diacritics) for Japanese words either. Heh. I'll conquer this blog yet, but it's doing dreadful things to this pedantic former copy-editor who believes that detail is important! :p
I said, in the comment that disappeared, that this is my favourite gogga photo so far. I know they have a nasty sting, but I want to stroke the fur (if that's what you call it) on this one's back.
I didn't realize honeybees were dying in the States. Hang in there, little guys, fight back!