My wife has long been a keen gardener and produces a lot of food for our dinner table. So we have been reliant on the pollination of many crops by bees. In late 2017 we bought two hives and have been captivated since. I had not appreciated the individuality of bees – we have a mix of golden Italian bees and grey carniolans, but then other darker and lighter bees show up. The queen will mate with multiple drones so the diversity is not surprising. To watch the hive landing platform is like watching people in a busy train station, with greetings, ticket checking, etc.
There are many stories about bees collapsing, so this was not new to me, but I had not appreciated how pervasive the Varroa mite is. The size of a pinhead, the attach to adult bees and suck their blood. But worse, they breed inside bee pupae (cocoons), often killing them or infecting them with a virus the causes their wings to be deformed. I have some photos of hatching bees, some with varroa.