Thursday, October 22, 2015

UBC Farm: My Favorite Place to Be in October

Beautiful pumpkins are waiting for you at UBC Farm. Make sure you head there this weekend to get yours.

An Eastern Interloper, this bumblebee has escaped from a greenhouse.

 No more flowers on the snowberry bushes. This signals the end of the native bee year here in Vancouver. You'll see honeybees foraging, but very few native bees if any at all.

Yarrow acts as a benificial plant next to crops attracting predators of the crop-eating bugs. It does tend to spread, and has deep roots, so in a smaller garden is needs to be reigned in. It's perfect for naturalizing into lawns and no-mow zones.

Bee plants can have other functions besides providing pollinators with nectar and pollen. Here's an example of intercropping kale with clover as a living mulch. (I'm not sure what that weed is at the bottom of the photo.)

Note to self: a trap crop is a crop that attracts pests away from the main cash crop. Catch crops like this phacelia and crimson clover catch nutrients and hold them in the soil in between the main cash crops.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Faux Queen on Gaillardia

When you're trying to get a good photo to ID a bee, you need to get a clear shot of the head, thorax and abdomen.

 Usually this takes me about 20-30 shots. It takes patience and perseverance.

It becomes a meditation.

And a kind of conversation. Often with the bee telling me in so many words to leave her alone so she can get back to work.

The model: I'm guessing she's a cuckoo  bumblebee. Nope, she is a true bumblebee. I should never attempt to ID a bumblebee on my own. Fail. Big fail.
What she's wearing: At first appearance it looks like she's covered in shaggy hairs designed for gathering pollen, but the glare off her body shows she may be wearing the faux fur intead of the setae a true bumblebee. And I don't see any pollen baskets.  Nope, she does have pollen baskets. Her true identity will be revealed in my upcoming book!
The location: Mountainview Cemetery meadow created by Jack Tupper as part of the Antler Collective.
The flower: A drought tolerant Gaillardia, or blanket flower
The seed mix: West Coast Seeds Bee Garden Blend custom made by Brian Campbell.