Native Bees and Wasps in the gardens of Flower Hill Farm 2014
Here is a collection of native bees and wasps I sighted in the gardens last year. Bees and wasps keep busy buzzing about blooming plants in the blueberry and wildflower fields, perennial beds, shrubberies, and trees that are their habitat. These important pollinators are sometimes forgotten when most conversations lead towards the endangered European honeybees. Carpenter bees and others are already being used to help pollinate crops. If you click on the images a slide show will pop up with the identity of each species.
I am still learning to identify the many bees of the Apidae family I share my home and habitat with. There is a large diversity offering importance and interest to this steward. The cuckoo bee is named for its kleptoparasitic habits similar to those of the cuckoo bird. Like the bird, the cuckoo bee does not feel obliged to build a nest of her own. The cuckoo bee inserts her eggs into the nests of other bees and her hatchlings then dine on the pollen balls and even the host larva. Nature can be so cunning and cruel.
Hearing the word wasp brings fear to some minds, but many wasps cannot sting and are very beneficial insects. They do have intriguing ways of survival.
The Blue mud daubers are like the cuckoo bee, bird and Brown-headed Cowbirds in how they too plant their eggs in nests of others. The Blue mud daubers collect water from pools and puddles to make other mud daubers nest pliable and after creating an opening, they remove eggs the other parent had planted. The usurper then deposits her own eggs into the nest before resealing it.
Great Golden Digger Wasps have a gruesome method especially for grasshoppers and such in how they prepare their nest for their offspring. A female captures and sedates a grasshopper or two and leaves them, along with one of her eggs, in a nest she digs then covers leaving a dark tale to unfold. It is hard to imagine the fate of the grasshopper. Seems a terrible death, but one that nourishes new life. It is a story repeated over and again throughout the insect world.
Not really a wasp this almond-eyed hornet is an ‘aireal yellow-jacket’ and he will sting if his nest is threatened. It is a good idea to pay attention to where these valuable creatures create their nests and to put up a sign or marker to signify their presence to avoid accidentally stepping into their aggression. Knowledge allows for peaceful co-existence.
I am busily buzzing along trying to finish documenting last years fauna. Spring is finally with us bringing song, butterflies and buzzing anew. In the next few days tree tops across the way on Cary Hill will pop into color creating a mini fall like landscape. My Stellata Magnolia is in full glorious bloom casting a subtle sweetness around the gardens as Tree Swallows sweep the sky snacking on black flies