We have a seven-year-old Meyer lemon tree that has been grown organically for the last five years and experienced the same die-off of its pollinators as Barbara Robbie Blake wrote about in her “Take care when buying plants” letter in your March 22 edition.
The vast majority of bugs were bumblebees, which swarmed the blossoms each morning. We noticed they did not fly away, but started moving slower and slower until by evening they fell dead at the base of the small tree. I did not notice this happening to any of the other bee- and fly-type creatures that visited the plant. The bumblebees also buzzed the flowers on our Key lime and pear trees and blueberry bushes but did not seem to suffer any ill effects. Our red navel orange tree is about to burst into bloom and we will be watching to see what happens — if there are any bumblebees left, that is.
Since our Meyer lemon tree was not sprayed with a systemic pesticide, we don’t know what affected the bumblebees so adversely.
Dotti Hydue and Bill Betz