Sunday, July 19, 2015

Beespotting at City Farmer

My physiotherapist is close to City Farmer, so I have a good excuse to go on a few bee safaris these days. The heliopsis is the current star bee plant, bringing in little leafcutter bees, like the one above and a few more species with cute striped butts.

 Here's the pointy butt of a cuckoo bee. She was also foraging in one of the many patches if thyme that are flowering in the garden right now.

And then that glamorous sweat bee showed up. Even though those the legs appear as if they have pollen, I think it's a male because of the long antennae.

 The cosmos were also popular with the striped butt crowd. Here is a larger species of leafcutter bee.

 Finally, a wee bee, maybe a Halictid species. Stripes are definitely the fashion at City Farmer Garden this summer!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Perennial Sweet Peas for Bees

 Look for bumblebees and leacutter bees in perennial sweet peas. The blossoms are a great source of nectar and pollen. However, the bumblebee seems better equipped to trigger the keel of the blossom to release the pollen and get right into the nectar tube. I noticed that this leafcutter bee was not triggering the blossom, but still sipping nectar. You can see the damage her feet are making to the flower as she struggles to find purchase.  

You can see the nectar guides and the damage clearly in this photo. When a bumblebee  depresses the keel a stamen wraps around her back and dusts it with pollen. I have seen leafcutters with pollen I thought was from perennial sweet peas, but now I'm not sure how they would harvest it. Keep a look out for clues! These sweet peas are unscented, but the annual varieties are not as attractive to bees.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wet, Sleepy Bees and a Cuckoo

With the welcome turn to damp, cool weather, it's fun to find the bees sleeping in flowers, sheltering from the rain. The bumblebee is waving its front leg as a warning to me because I'm getting too close. You can see marks on the flower to the right of the bee where it has been clinging to the petals.

We found two little species of native bees sheltering in calendula flowers.

ZZZZZZzzzzz. . . .

We also spotted a bumblebee I've never seen before, which I believe is a cuckoo bee, Bombus insularis. She lacks pollen baskets because she lays her eggs in other bumblebee nests.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Thirsty Bees in the Drought

It's hot and dry out there, and I have observed honeybees desperately seeking moisture. One worker bee followed me as I picked raspberries and sipped up the juice left behind on the nubs of the berries. I also saw bees mingling with wasps as they sipped drops of water from a drip hose on the sidewalk. Please remember to put out a shallow bowl of water with rocks, marbles, twigs, or corks to help the bees from falling in and drowning.

I found this male wool carder bee spending the night hugging a stalk of lavender. What a beautiful bed! He's done this for at least two nights and the first night he was biting into a lavender bud to help him hold on while he snoozed after a long day of sex and drinking. Those long hairs are a bit of a mystery, since he doesn't collect pollen.

I also saw this large leafcutter bee foraging in nasturtiums. Note the long nectar tubes in the flower you can see on the right of the flower--perfect for hummingbirds and long-tongued bees. Remember to give flowering plants water during the drought so they can produce nectar. Skip watering the lawn and pamper your flowers instead.