Native Bees and Other Pollinators

  • Native bees are disappearing across the globe

    Last week someone said to me, “Native bees don’t get colony collapse disorder, so it’s hard to believe they’re in trouble too.” Unfortunately, native bees ...

  • Save that bird nest!

    The problem with bumble bee boxes is getting the bees to move in. Depending on the type of house and the location, average occupancy rates ...

  • Mining bees are wild bees that live underground

    Once you start studying the pollinators in your garden, you will see many different types. If you start recognizing some of your visitors, you will ...

  • Mason bee "menage a trois"

    Caught in the act! This mason bee threesome was photographed by UK beekeeper Philippa Burgess. She got the shot a couple of years ago as ...

  • Pollen tramps I have known: Isabella

    When I began my search for the trampiest ladies in town, the bees sent me to a stand of thistle adjacent to the appaloosa club. ...

  • Ten ways to help the bees, starting today

    Humans are so intimidated by insects that we continually try to eradicate them even while we mourn the loss of biodiversity in other species. But ...

  • Bumble bees hibernate, honey bees do not

    Although honey bees and bumble bees are closely related, their winter behavior is very different. A colony of honey bees will live throughout the entire winter, ...

  • Milkweed surfaces as a green alternative

    After I wrote about milkweed fairies, I received the following story in an e-mail. Although I had read about this practice, I never knew of ...

  • Native bee forage: bird's eyes

    Bird's eyes (Gilia tricolor) is a perfect plant for your pollinator garden, planter box, rockery, or roadside. This annual plant is native to California, but ...

  • Lasioglossum on Claytonia

    [caption id="attachment_11345" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Hmm . . . that one looks better. © Rusty Burlew[/caption]

  • For the love of bees

    I used to be a respectable member of society, but now, not so much. For one thing, I carry test tubes in my pocketses ("What ...

  • Blue-banded bees: the buzz from Australia

    I have been a fan of the Australian native blue-banded bee, Amegilla cingulata, for a long time, mostly because of its gorgeous blue-striped abdomen. Because ...

  • The leafcutter bee: nature's hole punch

    [caption id="attachment_13215" align="aligncenter" width="600"] A leafcutter bee in western Washington. © Rusty Burlew[/caption] The bee in the photo is a leafcutter or leafcutting bee in the ...

  • Let's save the right bees

    It's about time that someone clearly and succinctly wrote about the "bee problem." And someone finally did. Gwen Pearson, known for years as the Bug ...

  • Pheasants Forever provides bee habitat

    Pheasants Forever, a non-profit conservation organization founded in Minnesota in 1982, promotes “the protection and enhancement of pheasants, quail and other wildlife populations” through its ...

  • Get that camera outta here!

    A sprawling lemon balm grows in the center of my chicken yard, surrounded by bushels of peppermint. Since they don’t care for mint-family plants, the ...

  • A garden gem

    Berry bees, Osmia aglaia, amaze me because they appear brilliant blue or green depending on the light. Sometimes, they reflect both at once. Since they are ...

  • Angelina lips

    [caption id="attachment_11791" align="aligncenter" width="655"] Halictus rubicundus © Rusty Burlew[/caption] Okay, maybe not. This is, after all, a male bee. In this species, the yellow face and ...

  • Wool carder bee: a military prototype

    Male wool carder bees remind me of ancient warriors. I can just imagine some military commander of yore seeing this flamboyant bee and exclaiming, "Yo! ...

  • Wednesday wordphile: scopa

    While honey bees have pollen baskets (corbiculae) in which to carry pollen back to the hive, many native bees carry pollen on the underside of ...

  • The real estate market heats up

    [caption id="attachment_1216" align="aligncenter" width="682"] Vacancy rate drops for native bees. Photo by the author.[/caption]

  • Mason bee condo filling up

    Although I haven't actually seen many mason bees around, it is easy to see they've been hard at work. This mason bee condo was empty ...

  • Pollen can carry disease to native bees

    While studying pesticides in pollen, I was always curious about the potential for pollen to carry disease organisms as well. Indeed, a new study that ...

  • Let mining bees be

    Right now, everyone wants to kill mining bees. Well, they don’t say “kill,” they say “get rid of.” It’s all the same. So, what is a ...

  • Pollinators are not going to change, so we have to

    It is easy to blame the loss of bee habitat on “them”—them being industrial farms, expansive orchards, sprayed fields, and freeways kept neat with herbicides. ...

  • Goldenrod: a late-summer feast for the bees

    Goldenrod is one of those plants that everyone knows, but no one can identify—or so it seems. The genus Solidago—to which all the goldenrods belong—is ...

  • Homes for the underground majority

    Most of us who want to attract native bees to our yards and gardens do so by providing housing in the form of tubes, straws, ...

  • A morning sip of nectar

    [caption id="attachment_4999" align="aligncenter" width="531"] Down the hatch. Bumble bee on goldenrod.[/caption] I have one little patch of goldenrod in front of my house, right next to ...

  • Russian sage for your pollinator garden

    Perovskia, also known as Russian sage, is a popular xeriscape[1] plant that is not from Russia, nor is it a sage. However, everything about Russian ...

  • Is there an environment the EPA actually protects?

    Much has been written in recent weeks about the unconditional EPA registration of the neonicotinoid clothianidin in spite of insufficient testing. Many classes of wildlife ...

  • Pollinator walls, bee towers, and insect hotels

    It seems that everyone is building for the bees these days, from private citizens, to transportation departments, to architectural design firms. The proliferation of bug ...

  • How to make an awesome nesting block

    The conventional wisdom about nesting blocks is that you take a 5/16-inch bit and drill holes that are roughly 5-10 inches long. This will attract ...

  • Chocolate is not pollinated by bees

    Like mushrooms on the forest floor, new pollinator charities pop up every week. About a month ago, one of these nascent groups asked if I ...

  • Joe-Pye weed for the pollinator garden

    Joe-Pye weed, Eutrochium purpureum, is a tall perennial plant in the Asteraceae family that is well-known for its ability to attract butterflies and other pollinators ...

  • Monarch butterflies are losing habitat

    One of our most endangered pollinators in not a bee at all, but a butterfly. The monarch—a name nearly synonymous with “butterfly” in North America—is ...

  • The Great Sunflower Project continues to grow

    In case you haven’t heard about it, The Great Sunflower Project is an on-going survey of pollinators in North America that uses “citizen scientists” to ...

  • Anise is an all-time bee favorite

    Yesterday a reader, Harold Owen, commented on my post “Five Favorite Plants for the Bee Garden” by saying that anise is an excellent bee attractant. ...

  • A chair with a buzz

    The Adirondack chair, below, is in my yard. A close-up of one of the screw holes shows that a mason bee decided it was a ...

  • Pollinator-friendly plants

    At the request of a friend I just posted a list of pollinator-friendly plants. It’s in the left column of this site, just beneath the ...

  • Mason bees fill up their nests

    No Vacancy at the mason bee condo It took them awhile, but the entire condo is filled--as well as the tubes they hatched from. A ...

  • And I thought bumbles were big

    What looks like a combination of a bumble bee and a hummingbird and a skipper? I certainly didn’t know as I began taking photos of ...

  • Update to "Bumble bees are not just for killing"

    A friend of mine from the east coast wrote to straighten me out on bumble bees. He said that when he used to till his ...

  • Who’s to blame, masons or carpenters?

    When I was a kid my mom waged war on carpenter bees. She had purchased a circular picnic table made from thick redwood boards. The ...

  • Do bumble bees hibernate or estivate?

    Bumble bees queens hibernate. According to the Miriam-Webster site, hibernate means "to pass the winter in a torpid or resting state; especially : to pass ...

  • Bombus vosnesenskii

    [caption id="attachment_13321" align="aligncenter" width="600"] This yellow-faced bumble bee showed up on March 24 near Olympia, WA. Photo © Rusty Burlew.[/caption]

  • Make room for mason bees

    My first shipment of orchard mason bees arrived in shiny little tubes that look like drinking straws, packed in a box that weighs next to ...

  • Bumble bee on cherry laurel

    My camera was trained on honey bees in the cherry laurel when this little bumble bee-bopped into view. I like the orange of her abdomen ...

  • Plant a pollinator-friendly plant for Earth Day

    If you live in the states, the Pollinator Partnership has a website where you can get information about pollinator-friendly plants that will grow in your ...

  • Stingless beekeeping in Mexico

    Gwen of the Bug Girl's Blog has written a neat little story in Wired Science about the native Mexican stingless bee, Melipona beecheii. "Women Work to ...

  • Wednesday wordphile: floral fidelity

    Although honey bees are polylectic, which means they visit many different species of flowering plants, they also exhibit floral fidelity, which means that a bee ...

  • Lasioglossum ovaliceps

    Apparently not much is known about this little bee which I found in my backyard last June. I sent my photo into BugGuide.net where the ...

  • Bumble bee on goldenrod

    [caption id="attachment_12363" align="aligncenter" width="648"] A late-summer bumble bee on goldenrod. © Rusty Burlew[/caption]

  • The logistics of pollen

    All bees have one thing in common: they use pollen and nectar to feed both themselves and their young. However, the best way to bring ...

  • Tips for planting a pollinator garden

    When planting a pollinator garden, keep in mind that pollinators need food during the entire growing season. Although some species live only a few weeks, ...

  • Bee flies require a second look

    A lot of honey bees have been working the oregano in the last few weeks, but one day I noticed a bee that didn’t look ...

  • A butterfly emerges

    A few weeks back, Nan at Shady Grove Farm in Kentucky sent in a photo of a monarch caterpillar preparing to pupate. Unfortunately she missed ...

  • Lions and tigers and bears, oh my

    As I knelt beside a Ceanothus, eager to photograph bumble bees, I was distracted by a little black fly. But when the tiny creature bustled ...

  • Five favorite plants for the bee garden

    Since this is the season when gardening catalogs flood my mailbox, I can’t help but think about next year’s pollinator garden. My five favorite pollinator ...

  • A pair of bees

    Too busy to write, I decided it's time for a photo post. The bee on the left is your average-size bumble bee. The one on ...

  • Dropping in for a visit

    This morning I hiked into the Capitol Forest to photograph bees. I found a few, but nothing I didn't expect. Several species of Bombus and ...

  • Bumble bee on azalea

    I've been worried about the native bees. So far this spring we've had very few nice days, and I haven't seen many native bees. Today, ...

  • Andrena mining bees

    About a week ago, my friend Glen asked if I wanted to see an underground aggregation of bees. Of course I did! I was elated, ...

  • Megachile perihirta, the furry leafcutting bee

    The furry leafcutting bee, Megachile perihirta, is one of my favorite pollinators because it is large and showy. From a distance, this bee could easily ...

  • Bumble bee on herb-robert

    [caption id="attachment_11349" align="aligncenter" width="800"] © Rusty Burlew[/caption]

  • A photo from the underground

    Spring is the season for digging: gardeners do it, moles do it, even bees do it. Two weeks ago, Carrie Dunn of Seattle was working ...

  • Trekking for pollinators

    Here's my newest crazy project: I want to learn which native pollinators visit which native plants in my local forests. So far, I've spent a ...

  • Alkali bees face death by highway

    The Touchet Valley in eastern Washington is home to the largest population of managed alkali bees anywhere on earth. If you have never met an ...

  • Native bees should not be managed like farm animals

    Talk of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) tends to bring out two groups of extremists—the group that believes the demise of honey bees will completely destroy ...

  • A Eucera bee visits my garden

    While looking for flowers on a male kiwi vine, I saw a bee that I immediately labeled as “bumble bee.” She was loud and fast ...

  • When should I put my mason bees outside?

    Good question. If you are keeping mason bees in cold storage—whether in a garage, shed, or refrigerator—it is time to get them outside. Although conditions ...

  • Hover flies pollinate flowers and eat aphids

    Many of our native pollinating insects are not bees. Included in this group are the hover flies, also known as syrphid flies, flower flies, or ...

  • Putting the squeeze on mason bees

    Talk about claustrophobia. Just looking at this bee gives me the heebie-jeebies. Conventional wisdom says a blue orchard mason bee (Osmia lignaria) likes a 5/16th-inch ...

  • Bumble bees are not just for killing

    When you run a website like mine you get to see a daily report of what people typed in the little search box that landed ...

  • Cat on a Mason Bee Condo

    One morning this spring I went outside ready to take photos of mason bees coming and going from the bee condo. What I found there ...

  • On a wing and a prairie

    I wanted to say more about the mining bees I discovered last week. According to my sources at BugGuide.net this bee is in the genus ...

  • Ground bees in a rooftop garden

    Apparently, ground bees don't care how far off the ground the ground really is. These rooftop bees were photographed by Erin McGann. She writes, "We ...

  • Tiny bee builds flower-petal nests

    Scientists in Turkey and Iran recently discovered a tiny bee that uses flower petals to build nest capsules. The bee, Osmia avoseta, uses only the ...

  • Mites on a bumble bee

    Yesterday I spent some time deleting photo files from my computer. I was just about to trash this one when I saw two odd-looking dots ...

  • Wednesday word file: sonication

    Sonication—also known as buzz pollination—is a method that some bees use to release pollen from stubborn flowers. Plants such as tomato, potato, blueberry, and cranberry ...

  • A face only a mother could love

    I recently found this ugliness on a red huckleberry bush. I have never seen such a thing in my life, and I managed one quick ...

  • On a wing and a prayer

    [caption id="attachment_11932" align="aligncenter" width="717"] A late summer bumble bee on a late-blooming blackberry. Photo © Rusty Burlew.[/caption] We know that honey bee workers live an average ...

  • Cockerell's bumble bee makes a comeback

    In late August of this year, along a weedy stretch of highway north of Cloudcroft, New Mexico, three bumble bees were plucked from the side ...

  • Bumble bee defecation

    I came across this on Wikimedia while I was researching something else. The photographer describes it as: "Slowed down footage of a bee squirting a clear ...

  • Pollinators on clematis

    Yesterday I saw these two little guys on the fall-flowering clematis just as the sun was setting. They look like a type of fly, but ...

  • A honey bee, not

    Briefly each spring, this bee fools me into thinking she's a honey bee. For me, the first clue that she's not a honey bee is ...

  • An unwelcome visitor to the mason bees

    This guy crawled out of one of the mason bee tubes today as I was watching. He was probably stealing provisions and eggs. Unfortunately for ...

  • The forgotten wasp

    When I posted the photos from Andrew Hogg yesterday, I somehow overlooked this one. So here is it, front and center. [caption id="attachment_12039" align="aligncenter" width="717"] A ...

  • Plant a garden and they will come

    I spent a few days last week visiting my daughter who lives in Issaquah, a bustling suburb of Seattle. Ironically, she was never much of ...

  • Bumble bee on vinca

    I don't know one bumble bee from another, but this one was striking. The bright band of orange shone in the sun from across the ...

  • Mason bees actually sting, kind of

    Yesterday I got my first sting of the season. That would not be remarkable except for one detail: the culprit was a mason bee. A ...

  • Capital Growth yields . . . veggies?

    “Capital Growth” is a project that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with creating a better environment. It’s a project I’ve ...

  • Where do bumble bees go in winter?

    Do bumble bees fly south? Hibernate? Keep themselves warm like honey bees? Why don't we see them flying around on a warm winter day? Even though ...

  • In search of creepy crawlies

    Yesterday, as I stood next to a neighboring field, I realized I could hear individual bees. When you spend time with bees, you learn to ...

  • How to attract bees to your garden

    Here are eight simple ways to attract more bees—both native bees and honey bees—to your garden.[list icon="plus"] Plant species that bloom in sequence. Just like any ...

  • Foraging habits of different types of bees

    Bees may be grouped into three categories based on their foraging habits. Bees that prefer only a small number of flowering species are known as ...

  • Just hanging out

    Once I began stalking honey bees with a camera, I became more and more enamored of insects in general. First I shot only honey bees, ...

  • A beekeeper’s winter “to do” list

    No, you cannot sit back and relax. Now is the time to get ready for next bee season! And bee-lieve me, there is plenty to ...

  • Looking for lunch

    [caption id="attachment_11429" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Bumble bee landing.[/caption]

  • How to build a bee block

    Of all the bees native to North America, about 30% use some kind of tunnel in which to lay their eggs. The diameter of the ...