Wednesday, September 17, 2014

If You Want to Plant Dahlias for Bees, Choose This One

Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' is a good choice for bees because it provides pollen for honeybees to build up vitellogenin for the winter and gives queen bumblebees a chance to build up their fat stores for hibernation.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Incredibly Tiny Hulk: Perilampid Wasps


Something surprises me every time I look for insects in gardens and when I saw a glittering turquoise wasp lurking on the leaves of a sunflower in my mom's garden, I assumed it was a little jewel wasp. Then I looked at the photograph and realized his critter looked like a jewel wasp on steroids. I identified it by seeing a similar creature on Bug Eric's website who helped me recognize it as a perilampid wasp which is a wasp that "parasitizes the parasites", making it a "hyperparasitoid wasp". There's a famous quote in the movie Jaws, when Brody says "We're gonna need a bigger boat." When I see these tiny fascinating creatures, I whisper to myself "I'm gonna need a bigger lens."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

You are Invited to Pollinator Picnic at Moberly Arts Centre Community Garden with Lori Snyder

Sunday Aug 24 @ 11 am to 1 pm--with special guest Lori Snyder

Join us at the Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre Community Garden for a picnic in the garden. Learn about pollinators and help build our garden and keep it beautiful. Please bring your own picnic brunch/lunch and dress for garden work!
Where: Behind the Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre
7646 Prince Albert Street, (one block east of 60th and Fraser)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Prairie Bees

 I'm on the road in Alberta and Saskatchewan visiting family and taking photos of bees for my book. I found two patches of these wild upright prairie coneflowers (Ratibida columnifera).

The leafcutter bees are huge out here!

And found this little cutie in my mom's garden in Cactus Lake clinging to a leaf by her mandibles while she grooms herself. Beautiful!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Proof that Wasps are Good for Your Garden

People always ask me "What are wasps good for?" Wasps keep cabbage loopers from eating your kale. Here's photographic proof. This yellow jacket will chow down on this looper so that she can regurgitate it as baby wasp pablum. As you can see, wasps do have some hairs, but they don't have the velvety branched setae that bees evolved as they changed from meat eaters to vegetarians. Wikipedia says wasps are sometimes misidentified at "meat bees". Bees are actually more like "vegan wasps".

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Loutet Farm and Jerry's Garden in North Vancouver

My friend Jasna and I visited Loutet farm and Jerry's garden to do some bee watching and we saw some lovelies, including this male bumblebee--the lightest greyest bumblebee I have ever seen. I think he's a newborn bee.

He was very interested in the cosmos.

 Later we spotted a beautiful large queen which may be his mother. She was very blonde, very calm and methodical, sipping each floret in this sunflower. I think she's a Bombus flavifrons dimidiatis.

I was happy to see some of the tiny bees in the anise hyssop, which gives me even more reason to recommend it as a great bee plant.

 The cilantro blossoms were covered in little bees.

 The goldenrod hosted the most variety of insects.

I have a lot of time for Sneezeweed.

This is more like the B. flavifrons I'm used to seeing, more specifically B. flavifrons flavrifrons. (Try saying that ten times in a row.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Playing Rude on Tansy

"Ummm, some of us are trying to eat here!"

There's a little cut flower garden tucked away on the north side of VanDusen Gardens run by volunteers. It's a little secret bee garden alive with all sorts of activities and I urge you to seek it out. Tansy is so unusual because they are clusters of composite flowers without expending the extra energy to grow petals. They make nice landing pads for a variety of insects.

Tansy  (Tanacetum vulgare) is a noxious weed in Vancouver with a history as a dye plant (yellow), powerful medicinal plant (considered too toxic to be used today) and insect repellant. It was put in with corpses in coffins in New England and in linen closets to repel moths. It is commonly planted in gardens in Australia to keep away ants, so maybe scientists should take a closer look at the potential for putting all that tansy along BC highways to good use. The essential oils are high in thujone, also found in the herb garden in oregano, common sage, and wormwood.
(Tanacetum vulgare)is a noxious weed in Vancouver