Native Bees and Other Pollinators

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Native pollinators: bumble bees

    When I think of cartoon insects, I think of bumble bees. They invariably have bold black and yellow stripes, wide bodies, and a big smile ...

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • What is chiropterophily?

    Chiropterophily is pollination of plants by bats. Bat pollination is most common in tropical and desert areas that have many night-blooming plants. Just like bees ...

  • Can a Texas bluebonnet change its spots?

    Texas bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis) are prolific in the early spring and are known for attracting an array of native bees as well as honey bees. ...

  • Is there a way to feed wild bees?

    It's my turn to ask questions, and I have a few of them lined up. This first one just came from a reader in Texas ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Take the pollinator challenge

    We beekeepers are often blind-sided by our love of honey bees. We, and especially the press, tend to equate the word "bee" with "honey bee." Last ...

  • Lasioglossum on Claytonia

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

  • 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 ...

  • Looking for lunch

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

  • A tiny pole dancer

    A girl's gotta earn a living somehow. This little bee, probably a sweat bee in the genus Lasioglossum, has taken to dancing around the filaments ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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. ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • What to do with all that tongue?

    The woodland skipper, Ochlodes sylvanoides, is a common pollinator of late summer and early fall. It can be identified easily by its brown and orange ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Native bee forage: California lilac

    I first learned about this plant several years ago when I was visiting the dentist. In front of his office was a gorgeous bush covered ...

  • 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 ...

  • Lekking for love

    A lek is a gathering of male animals where the males parade around, showing off their best features to their female admirers. By marking her ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Pollinator party

    Beekeeper Andrew Hogg sent me the following photos. He says: I got some great pics with my macro last August while a pollinator party was going ...

  • 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 ...

  • Leafcutting bees in action

    Leafcutting bees are everywhere. Dozens of them nest in my backyard, and I've seen alfalfa fields served by massive leafcutting domiciles containing millions of these ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • Alkali bees, the alfalfa specialists

    Honey bees aren't always the best bug for the job, and that is certainly the case when it comes to pollinating alfalfa. Honey bees do ...

  • Results of the bee quiz

    Congratulations! Many of you really know your bees! Some even got a perfect score. Although the quiz is still up, here are the results after ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • A mason bee condo won't "save the bees"

    If you want to save the mammals, you could adopt a pig. Although it sounds like fun, adopting a pig won’t save endangered mammals such ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • It's time for pollinator habitat

    There's a place in front of my top-bar hive where I back my truck and turn around. I was doing that yesterday, having just retrieved ...

  • Milkweed fairies due for a comeback

    Make a wish, blow it free. What kid in America didn’t grow up chasing milkweed fairies? The hairy white seeds floated, bobbled, and danced across the ...

  • 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 ...

  • Hover fly on Agastache

    Hover flies are true flies, not bees. Flies have one pair of wings, and bees have two. If you can get them to hold still ...

  • 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 ...

  • Fifteen ways to attract pollinators to your yard

    Here are fifteen easy ways to assure you will have a plentiful supply of pollinators all season long. Although we're half way through summer, it's ...

  • 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 ...

  • Hardy kiwis attract many kinds of bees

    Several years ago I planted two arguta kiwis—one male and one female (Actinidia arguta). Today these have turned into huge plants, looping over the garden ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • And now . . . chimney bees

    Nothing is more exciting than a new bee, so when these photos arrived from Louisiana beekeeper Robert Lunsford, I was immediately enthralled. The photos are ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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]

  • Nomada bee loafing in the park

    Milton-Freewater, Oregon has a great little town park with a playground, swimming pool, and a steep trail leading up a hill that overlooks miles of ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Bumble bee on herb-robert

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

  • 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 ...

  • The seven families of bees

    Since the advent of gene mapping, the classification of bee species has changed. Just a few years ago there were eleven families of bees, then ...

  • 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 ...

  • Melissodes sleeping in a thistle

    You might think sleeping in a flower would be a dream come true, yet for many bees, it is simply a fact of life. But ...

  • 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 ...

  • Metallic green bee

    I finally got a photo of a metallic green bee. It turns out these bees are a wee bit camera shy and it took a ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Tiny bee loses her pollen

    You think pollen collecting is simple, right? But no, like everything else in life it has discouraging moments. Here a little Lasioglossum bee decides to ...

  • 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 ...

  • How to move a bumble bee nest

    The first question to ask yourself is this: Must you actually move the bumble bee nest? Is such a drastic measure really necessary? Consider: [list icon="plus"] Bumble bees ...

  • Nomada bees: the home invasion specialists

    About twenty percent of all bee species in North America don't bother to collect pollen. It's not that they don't need pollen for raising their ...

  • 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]

  • Invasion of the hover flies

    According to several sources, Great Britain is being invaded by hordes of hover flies. We in the Pacific Northwest are seeing our fair share as ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Bumble burger

    [caption id="attachment_12115" align="aligncenter" width="717"] This bumble bee got snagged by a crab spider. Not only is the spider camouflaged, but she's tucked beneath the petals ...

  • Newly hatched mason bee

    [caption id="attachment_262" align="aligncenter" width="526" caption="Emerged today, March 24. Notice the three small eyes atop its head. Photo by the author."][/caption]

  • Native pollinator: wool carder bee

    Anthidium is the genus name for the very large group of bees that contains the wool carders. Wool carders are known as such because the ...

  • A journalist's bumble

    I was scanning my news feed yesterday when I saw an interesting headline, "The Most Fascinating Facts About Mason Bees." I eagerly clicked on the ...

  • Mason bee on the wing

    [caption id="attachment_13343" align="aligncenter" width="600"] This male mason bee had enough of the paparazzi. He's cute, though, even from the back end. © Rusty Burlew.[/caption]

  • 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, ...

  • Bees and their families

    Nothing has stirred up taxonomic relationships faster than genetic analysis. Relationships between species—both plant and animal—have been turned upside down. Some relationships that were “set ...

  • Pollinators on the night shift

    Nocturnal pollination is something I seldom think about, but this fascinating article by Paul Manning at Poky Ecology describes a host of nighttime pollinators in ...

  • Andrena bee

    Every few days I have a new favorite bee, and today the light of my life is Andrena prunorum. I just received positive identification from ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • How to attract bumbles to an artificial nest

    If you’ve made or purchased a bumble bee box, you are probably wondering where to put it and how to attract tenants. I’ve scanned dozens ...

  • Bumble bee on piggy-back plant

    Piggy-back plant, also known as youth-on-age, is a delicate little woodland plant in the saxifrage family. The species, Tolmiea menziesii, is native to the Pacific ...

  • Perfect disks or ragged holes?

    Point of view is everything. On Monday evening I attended a pollinator meeting in Olympia. Part of the discussion centered on leafcutting bees and how ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Is a solitary bee a mason bee?

    Confusion surrounding solitary bees seems to be getting worse. Recently, I ran into an acquaintance in a local supermarket. The conversation went something like this: “Hey ...