Thursday, July 28, 2016

Rest in Peace in Grindelia: Late July Bees in Oak Meadows Park

At this time of the year you'll find leafcutter bees chillin' in the fireweed at Oak Meadows Park.

I had fun watching this male leafcutter hover behind a female, fixing on the target before he mated with her. You can see that the male has ashy grey hairs, while the female is more blonde. She also has quite the facial hair, which is sometimes the case with certain species of female bees.

How can a person resist playing with fireweed seeds? Be free and feed the bees!

Meanwhile, on the east side of the park, the perennials are becoming well established and I was happy to see these gumweed flowers (Grindelia sp.) because they were so attractive to bees in the Okanagan.

They are shallow, easy-access flowers that capture the warmth and energy of the sun.

Look for these green plugs at the ends of leafcutter nests in the pollinator hotel.

This is also the time of the year when the males are dying. I found this little melissodes male in a grindelia flower.

He still has a glint in his eyes.

This bumblebee had died on a flower and was stuck in the sap that oozes from the buds.

This little guy was alive, but he had lost part of one antenna.

The honeybees were foraging in the chickweed growing underneath the taller perennials.

The lovely asters are blooming too.

I popped in quickly to VanDusen Gardens to admire these alliums. They'd be good to plant with nodding onions as they bloom slightly later.

Here's a cheeky wool carder bee heading into a beautful penstemon flower which was also hosting honeybees and bumblebees. I've read that some penstemons have hairs that keep some bees out of their corollas and I'm curious to study those species.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Frogs and Bees at the UBC Botanical Garden

On the road between UBC Farm and the UBC Botanical Garden I searched for bees in the roadside weeds.

This little guy in the mallow has a fabulous mustache.

He was still a little sleepy, so let's leave him dream in peace.

The last blackberry blossoms were full of a variety of bees.

I don't know what this flower is, but the bumblebees love it.

Here's the 49 bus stop by the Botanical Garden. I actually don't recommend you walk here because it's highly dangerous--too close to traffic.

Once inside the garden, I head to my favorite spot, which is the series of xeriscape beds on the east side.

This plant called Berkheya cirsiifolia, which looks like a thistle that mated with a cactus, was a hot spot for interesting bees. And I mean that literally. Look at the way the plant turns to the sun and catches the midday heat.

The lush stamens attract this large leafcutter with the orange hairs on the underside of its abdomen.

And this beautiful melissodes with its hairy pollen-collecting chaps.

Trust the agapostemon to find the best stamens on display.

This nearby plant was attracting honeybees and the little melissodes.

Look at how much pollen this little bee is packing on her legs! These little bees have a squat square gestalt when you look at them from above.

I love this combination of plants.

Andrena prunorum adores rattlesnake master.

The silver linden is just about bloomed out.

Here is some swamp verbena (Verbena hastata) in all its glory.

This is the first time I've seen a frog in a long while. The kids were having a blast here at the pond, spotting tadpoles. They named this one "Cedric".  He looks like a Cedric!

Many of the tadpoles had legs, like this one.

Thirsty honeybees were sipping water at the edge of the pond. They can take this liquid back to help cool down the hive.

This shrub has flowers with lovely stamens loved by wee bees.

In the Physic Garden a leafcutter was diving right into those luscious artichoke flowers.

I know it's projection, but foraging leafcutters seem to embody joy.

The wool carder bees were monopolizing the motherwort. I wonder if the females harvest the furs on the flowers. Let me know if you see them doing that.

A very shiny fly suns itself in the food garden.

It's lovely to see this milkweed, but I wouldn't put it in the food garden because it's highly toxic.

This is the wildflower mix I'd recommend from West Coast Seeds: the alternative lawn mix. Here it is attracting a wide variety of small bees I'm not seeing anywhere else in the garden. It's magical. I'm so glad I've given out bags and bags of these seeds.

This was my most exciting find of the day. I think it's a tiny male melissodes bee. Look at those long antennae!

It's good to know you can easily tuck this low growing seed mix into a raised garden bed.

Hello heliopsis!

I didn't see many species of bumblebees. This is an eastern bumblebee escaped from greenhouse agriculture, and implicated in the collapse of native bumblebee species.

Whoa, that's a lot of beehives. This will also adversely affect the biodiversity and number of native bees in the gardens.

If you're going to have honeybees, you're going to need a few acres of this anise hyssop.

After leaving the garden to walk to the bus stop I saw this sweetie in a lovely grouping of pink potentilla.

Hopefully this will help you spot a few bees on your own tour of the UBC Botanical Garden. I'd love to see some folks with really good macro skillz to take photos of these bees.