Spring Bulbs

It is March 9 in Zone 4, and after a mild winter we are awaiting the emergence of spring bulbs.  Bulbs are an importance source of early nutrition for newly emerging queen bumblebees, so hungry after their winter sleep.  Bulbs we planted last fall include crocus, squill, and eranthus.

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This year I’ve realized the importance of fall-blooming flowers for native bee populations.  I took this photo of bumblebees on my Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus) patch.

The evening before, I spotted these same bees clinging to various flowers.  As the nighttime temperature dipped into the 40s, they remained tightly on their blossoms, and in the morning I shot these photos.  Throughout the morning chill they remained immobile.  Only Once the intensity of the sunlight increased, the bees slowly resumed their foraging.

Despite an early freeze this year, the Salvia are still blooming and are the flowers that the bumblebees frequent the most this October.

Bee Watching

This past spring I happened upon some neighborhood children.  When I asked them what they were doing, they said proudly that they were killing bees.  How did children learn to dislike bees enough to kill them?

Bumblebees are gentle and industrious creatures.  Without bees, we would not enjoy such diversity of fruits and flowers.  Many people also do not know that there are many species of native bees that do not sting at all.

I know that I am not the only gardener who delights in watching bees at work.  I have become fascinated with native bees, and I think that the knowledge of these bees needs to be shared with the broader public.  With more appreciation for the tremendous work that they accomplish, our bees will enjoy greater respect and protection from us all.