Well, we’re onto visual observations, and it’s going so-so, to say the least. 😦
Last week we were able to get some nectar and pollen collection done, as well as a few visual observations, which was really exciting. It’s nice to go back to working with the actual bees, rather than collecting pollen and nectar as we’ve been doing for the past few months. We’re not seeing much diversity at all – all but one sighting was of honey bees on coffee…but the one sighting that wasn’t a honey bee was so exciting! What I’ve learned from field work is that you’ve got to start with low expectations, and then everything that exceeds your expectations is thrilling. I saw a teeny-tiny Lasioglossum foraging on coffee, her whole body was covered in pollen. I tried to take a video of her, but as soon as I approached the phone to get a better shot, she flew away…but I saw her, and that’s all that matters!
This week, however, was a total wash…and I mean that literally! Our flowers and us along with them basically all got washed away. Last Friday, I went to Utuado (see third figure in this post – top right pink dots show where Utuado is) with my newest technician, Jamarys, and talked to one of the farmers who said the biggest bloom of the season was about to take place. So, I coordinated with my four technicians for them all to stay with my in Utuado (instead of driving 3 hours there, and 3 hours back every day) for a few days to get the work done.
Well, the first day we got rained on, but thankfully we were near the car so we didn’t get too soaked.The second day, we got rained on as of 1pm, and were deep into the farm, so that by the time we made it up the hill, back to the truck, the path we once walked had turned into a stream.
The third day, when everyone was there and ready to start bright and early, we got to the farms and ALL, and I mean ALL of the flowers had been either squashed by the intense rain, or completely washed away, leaving the trees bare or full of yucky wet, brown flowers.
So, we left early and headed back to the field house in Cabo Rojo. On our way home, I split us up into two groups to send one group to Lares/Adjuntas (again see map linked above) and my group went to Maricao. It was a treacherous drive, going through windy roads that looked like they hadn’t been driven on in years, but we made it alive…and actually some parts of the drive were quite beautiful!
When we got to Maricao, we were met with this ominous fog, that I should have taken as a sign. The fog was so dense, I could barely see 20 meters ahead…but, walking around one of my farms, I saw flowers! And through the fog, I saw the light.
Alas, that light quickly vanished the next day (yesterday), when we all went back to the farm to conduct visual observations and the fog was back, and then the rain began, and didn’t stop. Today, I didn’t even give it a shot…we did data entry and truck maintenance. It had to be done, so I’m glad we did it, but I wish we had had a bit better luck this week…all in all we did so little work and so much driving and getting rained on…
Here’s hoping for sunnier days ahead! Or at least 13 sunny work days so we can at least have surveyed all our farms once, please…please Pachamama, please?
Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me!