May 13, 2013
Bald Faced Hornets Eat Greenhouse!
It sounds like a sci-fi movie title, right? Well, actually it’s happening right now. In my garden. As I type this.
Over the past week I’ve been getting buzzed by all sorts of bees in the garden. And, this hornet is definitely the one I most want to leave alone; hence the not-terribly-great close-up photo.
She’s zoomed past me a few times — almost flying into my face once — but she hasn’t chased at all. That being said, I’m steering clear of her wood harvesting spot on the south door of my greenhouse.
Hornets chew up wood, mix it with their spit and then build their papery nests out of the mixture. In the garden, they’re demolishing a rotting nurse log and now chewing tracks into the greenhouse wooden frame.
She then flies southwest and away from my garden. So far, it seems only one bee at a time shows up for the harvesting, and the nest she’s building must be in a neighbor’s yard.
Honestly, really don’t want them nesting here. And, I’d rather they find another building material source. Being the lumberyard for hornets has never been one of my gardening and bee habitat-building goals.
May 09, 2013
As I worked in my garden yesterday, various encounters with resident fauna left me feeling a bit unbalanced. But, as I reflect on it today, I realize it was just nature doing its thing and me being in the midst of it. Here’s what happened as I weeded, planted, pruned and watered…
It began with the distant sounds of crows arguing. Loud squawks and wing flapping from the neighbor’s large trees. Then, suddenly the crows were upon me. No, not diving at me directly, but rather doing something I can only describe as fly-fighting. Four big, flapping, angry birds skimmed the air just a few feet beyond my head. Three were hot on the tail of another, chasing it hard, and they almost dove their prey right into my head. A murderous Murder?
I survived as they passed on to other territory.
It was a rather warm afternoon, and our honeybees were very active. They’ve thoroughly enjoying all of the water offerings in our garden. Most, from both hives, make their way to our small potted spigot fountain filled with Glass Gardens Northwest’s new line of Bee Preserver floats. Although the path by the fountain gets busy with bees, they pretty much leave me alone. No biggie.
But, one gripe with the honeybees: they also love to harvest water from freshly moistened potting soil. So, my potting bench is often inaccessible to me if I’ve prepared trays of containers to pot up. Usually, I can carefully move a tray and do my potting up on another table, but yesterday a lone honeybee was having none of my crazy gardener antics. That bitch was out to get me!
Yes, I know. Honeybees are not aggressive. But… (more…)
May 06, 2013
Today Glass Gardens Northwest launched their new line of glass garden floats to help with bee preservation, aptly named Bee Preservers. Founder Barbara Sanderson is an advocate for clean food, animal welfare, and a healthy environment. Learning about the escalating plight of the bees and seeing our bees using her art as a safe way to access fresh water, combined to inspire this new line of her work.
These new floats are created with added exterior texture to allow the bees to safely land in a water feature and trek down the glass surface to sip from the water — without falling in and drowning as so often happens.
And, yes, they work as intended! Barbara sent a few our way last week to try out — yes, free of charge and without expectation of compensation on our end — and the bees love them so much we can’t dismantle, drain and scrub out our mucked up, over-wintered bubbling pot. Oh well, the bees don’t care, and that chore can happen another time when it isn’t so hot & sunny, which makes for some thirsty bees of all kinds.
Prices for these floats begin at just under $14; larger floats are incrementally more expensive. Buy them here.
And, just think: $3 of every float you purchase is being donated by Glass Gardens NW to The Foundation for the Preservation of Honeybees.
May 01, 2013
Saturday, May 4th at 10am meet Robin at Molbak’s Nursery for her free seminar on gardening for non-stop color. Learn about trees, shrubs, ferns, grasses, perennials, annuals and art that bring the Wow! factor to your garden from May to October (and all the other months of the year).
Robin will discuss design techniques, texture ideas, edibles, plants for pollinators and much more to help you create a garden of Ever-changing Moods. She’ll help you understand seasonal transition tricks, elements of surprise, ways to avoid big flops, and creating a hide ‘n seek garden for fun.
After her talk, shop the nursery to pick up some of the plants and materials she recommends or just stick around for the rest of the day to enjoy more seminars and technique talks.
Hot Tip: Molbak’s is offering giveaways as well throughout the day!
April 29, 2013
Not only are we continuing to create a bee-friendly habitat garden, host honeybee hives & mason bee boxes, but as of this past weekend, we’re now home to a rescued, wild bumblebee nest!
In Seattle, if unwanted bees of any kind take up residence in your garden or home, there are rescue agencies to call that will extract the bees without using pesticides in the process. They’ll evaluate your situation and make recommendations based on your space, the kind of bee, the time of year, and more. Their goal isn’t to exterminate. Rather, these programs seek to educate homeowners and help maintain healthy habitats for people and for the bees as well. Hence, the no ‘cide approach and the evaluate & educate approach.
Dan the Bee Man offers exactly this type of service.
Earlier this year, I reached out to Dan to find out if he’s ever on the look-out for relocation sites for bumblebees. And, as I expected, he does prefer to relocate the nests rather than kill the bees whenever possible. (Yes, he does kill some infestations of yellow jackets, hornets and wasps, but he does it with soapy water rather than something more toxic.) So, I asked him to get in touch when he was looking for a new host site.
And he called Saturday afternoon.
Not far from our home garden, a family of red/orange-rumped bumblebees had taken over a hand-painted birdhouse in someone’s garden. Dan was able to gather up the entire birdhouse, insert it in a bucket topped with a second bucket. Then, he sealed it up with tape. That means he didn’t have to really disturb the nesting bees, was able to gather a large portion of the colony, and release it into our garden with little disturbance. He simply put on his bee suit, stepped into an available part of our garden, removed the tape, took off the top bucket, lifted the entire birdhouse out and set it on the ground.
Within less than five minutes, the bumblers had found our blueberry patch not three feet from their new home. These ladies love the blueberries and began pollinating right away. Today, a few days later, they’re buzzing all over our garden — hitting the much Bee-loved Manzanita that is already buzzing with the sounds of mason and honey bees. And, our native Vine Maple is all-abuzz with all sorts of hungry pollinators — bees and birds alike.
Although bumblebees do produce a bit of honey, we really won’t get any from these girls. What will we get? Pollination galore; bumblebees are better tomato pollinators than our other bees. And, we’ll get the peace of mind knowing we’re providing a home to yet another threatened pollinator.
To learn more about the decline of the bumblebee, visit the Xerces Society page here.
To see about hosting a rescued bumblebee nest or other bees or to find out about his poison-free extraction services, contact Dan the Bee Man Here. (And, as always, check to see if hosting is regulated in your area before you dive in.)
And, if any of you can fully identify the species of bumblebee shown in the photo at the top of this page, we’d love to hear from you!