Native Bees and Other Pollinators

  • 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 ...

  • Bees that bring a tear to your eye

    An article at the Discover Magazine website describes how tiny sweat bees sit on the rim of human eyes and drink tears. According to the ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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]

  • Other pollinators: 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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]

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Can anyone identify this bee?

    Update June 25: According to Kathy Keatley Garvey and Dr. Robbin Thorp at UC Davis, this is a small metallic sweat bee in the genus ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Berry busy berry bee

    Here is a creature to add to your native bee list. Osmia aglaia is a small (about 3/8-inch long) metallic-green bee that is native to ...

  • 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 ...

  • Autumn Joy beginning to bloom

    This has been a season of firsts. I love to try new things and this year I've experimented with new styles of pollinator housing, three ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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! ...

  • 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, ...

  • Honey bee forage: curlycup gumweed

    Curlycup gumweed is a plant native to North America that attracts a variety of wild pollinators as well as honey bees. The name “gumweed” refers ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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]

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Cosmos: a multipurpose bee flower

    I planted two different types of pollinator seed mixes this year, not for the bees to tear up, but to provide pollen and nectar. Both ...

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • What bumble bee is this?

    Can anyone identify this bumble bee? The photo was taken March 24 in western Washington in a garden patch of Vinca minor. [caption id="attachment_280" align="aligncenter" width="717" ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Lasioglossum on Claytonia

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

  • 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 ...

  • Wednesday wordphile: ocellus (plural: ocelli)

    An ocellus is a simple eye having a single lens. This type of eye does not form an image but acts as a photo receptor, ...

  • 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 ...

  • What's in there?

    This is one of those photos I didn't know I had until I was reviewing the day's pics on the computer. I love the way ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • A bully of a bumble

    Last August I was watching this little native bee through the lens. She was hanging onto a thistle with her two front legs while she ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • Looking for lunch

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

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 bees in a honey bee hive

    Mason bees, leafcutting bees, and other cavity nesters are incredibly easy to please. The hype you hear about their tubes needing to be a specific ...