New Resident

This morning I went to the garden, did a little maintenance, harvested some salad greens and spinach, and snapped some images with the intention of doing a little garden post here. Then we went on a long afternoon of hiking at the county’s newest forest. I’ve got a gazillion images from that hike to process and I’m too pooped to write much anyway, so here’s a short video of a bee moving into a hole in the log I drilled and put out only yesterday. I’ll take a shot at ID once I’ve worked a little more through my backlog.

 

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I See Your Butt!

I really should be more careful when I’m out in the garden talking to some insect, rabbit, chipmunk, plant or even myself. The yards are small and the houses are close together. I can only imagine what the neighbors thought yesterday when they heard me exclaim "I see your butt!" as the camera clicked away. Cut me some slack. I was excited. Here was the first real confirmation that at least one solitary bee was interested in the nesting tubes I put out for them.

Butt Shot

On a few previous occasions I’ve seen a couple different kinds of bees, guessing from their different sizes, fly quickly into the tubes or between them and not coming out for as long as I was willing at the moment to stand there waiting for them. This time, however, I was able to watch a bee working inside the bamboo tube. And it was only after I looked at the image I captured that I noticed the material inside the adjacent tube. Pollen? Maybe.

 

Sealed Tube

Fast forward to this evening, and 24 hours later I see that not only is the tube that was being worked the previous day all sealed up with mud, another smaller one an inch to the left is as well. What’s just as cool is that the tiny openings of a couple of the Turtlehead stems I hung below the bamboo tubes have been sealed up, too. Getting a picture proved to be beyond my capabilities, though. Still, it was enough to make me shout, “Wow! Would you look at that!”

Houses don’t turn over too quickly here. It must be a really good school district.

Ready For Guests

I finally, and possibly at the last minute, got around to putting up the nesting tubes I had gathered for solitary bees. As luck would have it I had the roof from a failed birdhouse attempt that a soup can fit into nicely. I jammed the bamboo firmly into the can and wired it to the underside of the roof.

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Voila!

Since the roof is so much wider than the can I took advantage of the extra space and hung a bundle of turtlehead stem sections below and to the side of the bamboo can. Now it’s just a waiting game to see if any bees find these accommodations inviting!

The Bee That Launched a Thousand Eggs…A DAY, and a Mystery Visitor!

Helen's Workers

Say “Hello!” to the workers of Queen Helen. She’s busy at the moment down on the frames laying eggs. I installed a three pound package of bees in this hive about a week-and-a-half ago and have confirmed that they are raising brood like good little troopers. It’s safe now to officially name the queen. This is the first time I’ve actually had drawn comb to install on. I’m reusing what was left from a split we did last fall that died over the winter. When bees are installed on bare foundation or, as I do, on empty frames with guide bars, they have to put a lot of work getting the comb made first before the resource-gathering and brood-rearing can get into full swing for the season. Comb is the structure of the hive that they really can’t function without.

Next door in Bernice’s hive things are off to a slow start but I’m hoping now that the weather is warming up they’ll build up soon. As I was looking into that hive I noticed one of the bees crawling around on my hand wasn’t a honey bee!

Not a Honey Bee

I grabbed my phone and got  a quick picture of it before it crawled down into the hive. I don’t know what it is and I hope it’s not harmful to the honey bees. I doubt it is. Looking around at some resources online and elsewhere I think I have a general idea of what it is but am not ready to say for sure. I will say, however, that my year of paying more attention to native bees got off to an earlier start than I expected in a completely unexpected place.