World Bee Day – Celebrate the Wild!

Whirly bee image by Katy Pye

Happy World Bee Day!

Wow! Are there more than honey bees out there and are they ever busy. Wild bees all over the world are pollinating all kinds of plants that benefit not only us, but every ecosystem.

Sam Droege of the USGS Bee Identification and Monitoring Lab put together this terrific slide show celebrating native bees. The images are from the lab’s permanent research collection.

 “25 Facts About North American Wild Bees.” How many of these facts are news to you? I counted 7. Most interesting to me are #4, #13, and #21.

Like all pollinators, native bees are in trouble – even more so than honey bees. What can we do to help these often over-looked wonders? Plant the native plants of your area, not cultivars, if possible. Check online for native plant societies in your area. They will have lists.

Confession: my yard has lots of non-native plants the bees love, but there’s no way of knowing whether they contain the level of nutrients the bees need to be their best. We’re working to add more straight native plants so all our pollinators (and other critters) benefit. 

It’s a day to open our eyes and ears and give a big nod of gratitude to these insect “workhorses” of the planet.

Here are a few photos of the wild bees active in my yard during spring and summer. I’m still learning species, so not all are identified.

Bombus vosnesenskii-Yellow-faced bumble bee on ceanothus
photo: © Katy Pye

Bombus vosnesenskii – Yellow-faced bumble bee on Sparaxis tricolor
photo: © Katy Pye

Bombus melanopygus ssp edwardsii – black-tailed bumble bee
photo: © Katy Pye

5-spot flower with Sweat bee-exact species not identified
photo: © Katy Pye

unidentified native bees on poppy
photo: © Katy Pye

Ok, not a bee, it’s one type of syrphid fly. But they are just as good a pollinator (if not better). They are great predators, too. Their larvae eat 1000 aphids each as they grow! Since it doesn’t have its own day, let’s celebrate them today, too! 
photo: © Katy Pye

I Spy! Who's Using My Garden: A Pollinator Garden Workbook

 

 

I Spy! Fall In The Pollinator Garden

9-16-18 I Spy glasses-HBe & HBr copy

Walks in my pollinator garden are always “I Spy” adventures. I’m tracking which pollinators are using the plants, flowers, and extra water and food resources I’ve provided. These include two hummingbird feeders. A few days ago another group of “I spy” eyes locked onto the feeders . . . honey bees. Maybe they’re from a wild colony or domesticated bees from a neighbor’s box. Either way, a scout made it back to the hive to do its boogie, woogie, waggle dance and map out the way to a sugar fest in my yard. Continue reading