The cacophony was mind numbing.
The overwhelming number of honeybees buzzing through our apple trees, bumping from blossom to blossom, doing their best performance of The Birds and the Bees (without the birds- is that still legal, or have the Conservatives changed that back again?) as they pollinated what's looking to be a bumper crop this year.
Well- okay- it wasn't exactly a "cacophony." And yeah- the numbers weren't "overwhelming." And my meagre little apple orchard of a dwarf, a semi-dwarf, and one espalier, plus a weeping cherry is not likely to crop a bumper-
But there were several honeybees in each tree at any given time.
And while that was a far cry short of the days when the honeybees were so numerous in our garden and fruit trees that they actually drowned out the noise of passing traffic during the afternoon rush, there were enough that this is the first time in years that I am feeling confident that the honeybee workforce, working in concert with their native cousins, is strong enough that I won't have to get out my camel-hair brush and do the Birds and Bees thing myself, manually (please, oh please, don't tell Mr. Harper that I've done that - I suspect that might be viewed as seriously by his ilk as bees without birds!).
Seriously, though, it's been a pretty grim honeybee scene in our neighbourhood for the past few years.
At first, we noticed that the local bumblebee population started to explode.
Bumblebees, unlike imported honeybees, are native to this area.
Once whatever was making the honeybees drop like flies (don't you just love that metaphor!) cut the competition, the less competitive bumblebees rediscovered their niche.
And since bumblebees are actually superior pollinators to honeybees, our garden fared well, thank you very much.
Incidentally, in case you're wondering (but actually, just to fill this space, as I'm running out of relevant thoughts and need to add pedantic padding), nobody bothers to farm bumblebees because, unlike their immigrant cousins from Europe and Africa, they are not honey factories (hence the absence of "honey" from their common designation).
But then the worst happened. It was bad enough that the honeybees - interlopers from another continent, after all - were losing ground, but then the bumblebee numbers began to fade.
Indeed, despite a marked - albeit still sparse - resurgence of the honeybee population, bumblebees remain a relatively rare sight in our yard.
To battle the dearth of "regular" bees, we started taking steps several years ago to help them fight impending annihilation.
In addition to cultivating the favour of mason bees and leafcutters (both natives, and even better at pollinating than bumblebees), I have become less aggressive about expurgating dandelions, and have welcomed clover to help make bees feel welcome.
I even tried to naturalize meadow daisies among my fescues and bromes, acting on a realization that what to us, as humans, seems a perfectly green lawn, to a bee is indistinguishable from a parched, uninhabitable desert: no landmarks for navigation, and no flowers for feeding.
That "green desert" phenomenon, indeed, may be an important factor behind our bees finding it difficult to cope with the new world order that we humans are unconsciously - and unconscionably - building for the denizens with which we share our planet.
And as the bees have been trying to tell us, our ignorance is to our detriment.