Sunday, June 28, 2015

An Example of Garden Design for Pollinators at UBC Farm

 On Saturday I taught a workshop at James Richardson's permaculture course. I found a great example of gardening for pollinators in the Landed Learning Garden. In the centre of the garden is crocosmia, a hummingbird magnet which has bright red flowers with long nectar tubes. A cheeky little hummer gave us a lovely demonstration of sipping nectar while we admired her.

The next layer in this grouping is comfrey (Symphytum officinale), which was almost finished blooming, but was still attracting hungry bumblebees with fat golden pollen baskets. This bee is grooming while hanging on the blossom by one leg. The hummingbirds were also sipping at the comfrey which refills with nectar about every 3 hours. The third plant, which was a lower layer was hardy geranium (Geranium maculatum). It has shallow purple flowers with clear nectar guides that was attracting honeybees and tiny native bees.This planting is an example of a great way to design for pollinators, with different plants catering to different niches filled by a diversity of pollinators.

Artist Jasna Guy, pictured here with fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium), helped me out in the workshop and showed us how to use a tuning fork to release pollen. She has had good luck putting flowers in a vase and then using the fork to release the pollen when they reach that crucial point in their development. Jasna is exhibiting her work this fall at the Richmond Art Gallery. Please keep an eye on her fabulous blog for details.

Students who want more information about mason bee houses can check out this info from the Xerces Foundation.

Folks interested in further classes in bee knowledge can check out Brian Campbell's  classes at VanDusen Gardens and Langara College. 

The Environmental Youth Alliance also offers opportunities for learning about bees and you can drop in on the open hive days at Hives for Humanity in the Downtown East Side.

Thanks for a fantastic afternoon of exploration!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Green Porn in the Germander

 Dan Jason from Salt Spring Seeds tells me that Wood Germander (Teucrium scorodonia) is one of the most popular plants for bees in his garden. It has taken 2 years for the plants to bloom, but now I have been watching and waiting for the bees to come. It turns out the wool carder bees in our back yard love this plant and they are monopolizing the patch. The males are horny flying ninjas, pushing out competing bees and humping the females like there's no tomorrow. Honeybees and bumblebees try to get into the blossoms, but eventually give up.

 Even though it is far from a red tubular flower, the hummingbirds love it.

 I saw something really interesting today. A little black bee was gnawing on the edges of these yellowed rose leaves. It seemed to be ingesting the leaf pulp to use in the nest. I think it was some kind of Osmia.

Here's a little leafcutter in the nodding onions at the MACC herb garden.

Here's the pollen on her butt.

Thanks to all the friends who have been helping me in the garden since I broke my arm.

Hugs and Kisses

Friday, June 19, 2015

Celebrate Pollinator Week With Us!

I'll be with my fellow bee nerds this weekend at a couple of events. Please join us and ask any bee gardening questions.

Celebrate Pollinator Week at South Hill Library Branch! Meet a trio of bee-huggers who can help you help the pollinators in your neighbourhood.

Erin Udal from the Environmental Youth Alliance will show you some of the bees she's collected in Vancouver. (Spoiler alert, they can't sting you.)

Brian Campbell, a Master Beekeeper, Master Gardener and servant to bees of all stripes will answer all your beekeeping and bee gardening questions.

Lori Weidenhammer, an artist/bee gardener will be the Seed Librarian in residence, "lending" seeds you can grow to feed the bees.

If it's not raining we'll be outside the front entrance to the library, but if it's wet, we'll take cover inside the library.

We'll be giving away free seeds while supplies last.

When: Saturday June 20, from 11 am to 1 pm.

 Main Street Car Free Day is this Sunday!!!!!!!!

Join Brian Campbell and Madame Beespeaker at the Little Mountain Neighborhood House from 1-3 pm to learn about hosting bumblebees in your garden. Find out about plans for a new community garden in Riley Park.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pollinator Heros in the Downtown East Side

 On Saturday, I joined a walk lead by Sharon Kallis from the Urban Cloth Project: Terroir and Sarah Commons from Hives for Humanity. Participants in the UCP: Terroir project grew textile fabric from seed and prepared, spun and dyed the fibers before they were crocheted into the skep-shaped pollinator markers like the one you see above.

We began the tour in the Carnegie Library where one of the pollinator heroes showed us the seed library tucked up on the shelves and a collection of books related to bees donated by Hives for Humanity.

 Himalayan honeysuckle was popular with the honeybees.

 Ripe blueberries in early June in the Hastings Urban Farm. The honeybees were very active in the nearby asparagus flowers.

Veronica is an important June bee plant.

A small leafcutter bee in the shadow of a sea holly head.

 A long-horned flower beetle sips sea holly nectar.

Karen Barnaby's skep-shaped treats glitter with flax and gold.

Sharon approves!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happy Pollinator Week!

The Pollinator Project celebrated Sunday at VanDusen Gardens.

Yours truly crashed the party with a fractured wing! (I fell off a chair trying to catch and release a large parasitic wasp.)

Jasna Guy and I went on a pollen-collecting safari.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Wily Chayote and Green Bees

Today I have an eclectic selection of seasonal images from Vancouver. Chayote plants for sale on Fraser Street near Main and 49th.

 Tulip trees blossoming on the grounds of the Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre. These blooms are so full of nectar, you can shake them and the nectar showers down from the blossoms.

A green sweat bee gathering powdery purple pollen of Bolander's phacelia. This year we have a critical mass of these flowers which means the variety of bees visiting the flowers has increased compared to last year, when it was visited mostly by bumblebeees.

This photo shows the stripes on the bee's abdomen.

While the sweat bees collect pollen, a  leafcutter bee goes in for a nectar dive, pushing past the hairs around the stamens to get to the sweet stuff.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I'm Voting for the Pollinator Party!

Just joking! Save the date for this fabulous event. I'll be giving bee safari tours.