More about missing bees

Jane McGary
Sat, 19 May 2007 09:03:45 PDT
Thanks to Joe for posting the information about losses in honeybees, which 
I've also noticed in newspapers and magazines.

Although I don't know of any neighbors in my rural area who keep bees, and 
there are no orchards nearby, it always amazes me to see many honeybees 
arrive in my garden and bulb frames in early February, when the weather is 
usually inclement, to visit the crocuses. At this time, there are no other 
flowers in bloom anywhere in the area. I suspect these are wild bee 
colonies escaped from domestic sources. If the sun is out even for an hour, 
almost ever crocus will have a bee in it on some days.

Soon more species of bees are visiting the bulbs (and sometimes hybridizing 
them -- sorry!). I've counted as many as six different kinds of bees on one 
flowering shrub or crocus patch. Some of these are mason bees (the ones 
that build their mud nests into our window frames), and others appear to 
nest in crevices without making mud structures. We're being urged to 
encourage these "alternative pollinators" even by providing special 
"houses" for them. Out here in the country, I don't need to put up bee 
houses. The presence of these insects is no doubt responsible for the 
excellent supply of seeds I get from my bulbs most years. I have started 
warning exchanges and purchasers about the possibility of hybrids, though.

Many bees nest in the holes and crevices of the railroad ties that form the 
base of the bulb frames. Fortunately, most of them aren't very aggressive; 
the wasps and hornets that sometimes make their homes in this dry, warm 
place are, though, and I have to get rid of them at the start of bulb 
lifting time.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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