Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Diversity of Bees at Vancouver City Hall Community Garden

 Gardens are an important expression of a city's expression and spirit. Civic plantings say a lot about a city's character and priorities. What do the plantings at Vancouver City Hall say about us? Are they waterwise, sustainable, pollinator-friendly examples of permaculture? Or are they bland, conventional annuals replaced every few months from the city greenhouses? Are they a good use of labour resources? Do they inspire the gardeners that maintain them? I'm just curious.

I found this little purple garden I found at the back of City Hall. It's got lavender, scabiosa, cranesbill geranium, and salvia. In fact, it's a little bee garden. I like it. It's simple and charming.

But what I really like is the City Hall Community Garden. I stopped by to weed the school plot and do some bee watching. Yesterday I explained to my twelve-year-old son what "me time" is. "It's a day you take yourself to the spa, and do things to nourish yourself," I said. "Hmm, when was the last time I went to a spa?" Cue the eye rolling. My "me time" is bee time. I needed a bit of that in the middle of running errands in a busy city. I found this tiny bronze bee resting on a dianthus blossom. She doesn't seem to be carrying pollen on her furry legs.

There were bumble bees foraging in the white and purple salvias in the pollinator garden, but the real action was in this clump of thyme. Considering it was already 5 pm, I was glad I hadn't missed the show.

There were about six honeybees here, along with two small syrphid flies, one larger syrphid, the gold bee, a green-eyed little bee, a really tiny sweat bee, along with two kinds of wasps. The Salvia officinalis next to the thyme was being dominated by a wooly carder bee.

One wasp flew into this tiny hole in the bed. I think this is the kind of wasp that stung me once when I was watering the garden plot. It felt like there was hot water coming out of the hose onto my leg, and then I realized I was being stung by angry wet mini-wasps coming out of the cracks in the wood.

 I know this is a fuzzy photo, but this sweet green-eyed girl has a fuzzier butt than that little wasp, even thought they are about the same size. I'll try to get a better photo tomorrow.

Now I know where to go bee-watching with students! Have you had your bee time today?
Madame Beespeaker's RX for happiness: fifteen minutes of bee gardening or bee watching a day.

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