Native Bees and Other Pollinators

  • 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 ...

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Lasioglossum on Claytonia

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

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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]

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ...

  • What's all the hype?

    "So what's all the hype about pollinators, anyway? Doesn't pollination just happen?" This question comes up frequently. Prior to the mid-1940s most pollination did "just ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Cuckoo sweat bee

    Cuckoo bees are called “cuckoo” because they don’t forage for pollen to feed their young. Instead, they steal it. Female cuckoo bees hang around the ...

  • 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 real estate market heats up

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

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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]

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Looking for lunch

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

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Wednesday word file: pollination saturation

    Pollination saturation is the practice of flooding a crop with an overly-large number of honey bee colonies in order to assure adequate pollination. The practice is ...

  • 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]

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Bumble bee on goldenrod

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

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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" ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Mason bee covered in mites

    I try to remain vigilant for mason bee mites and I use recommended control measures for limiting their impact on the few mason bees I ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...