Sunday, April 5, 2015

Pollinating Bees

While checking some of my gardens today, I was looking for bees or other pollinators. This year the number of honey bees is lower than usual. The days have been on the cool side, so there is less bee activity. But the primary concern is that the population of honey bees has dropped significantly and is still dropping even more. 

Though I saw very few honey bees, I did come upon a number of large black bees. Carpenter bees of some sort? I'm no insect expert, so I'm guessing carpenter bee. 

This one was harvesting nectar from a squash flower. I noticed a number of yellow lumps on its back. Based upon dusty recollections from my college days, I recall that those yellow lumps are pollen laden anthers from some previous flowers this bee had visited. Some flowers have sticky anthers designed to glue themselves to the backs of visiting insects. When the bee visits the next flower of that plant species, those anthers (and the pollen) rub against the pistil (female part) thus pollinating the flower. Pretty cool system Mother Nature devised, eh? 

I'm glad to see that there were several of these big bees around. Sadly for gardeners like me, I know that there are homeowners who poison and kill these bees in the name of protecting their homes. With the severe decline of the honey bee, plus the war against these black bees, food gardens are in serious trouble. 


  1. Love thm bumble bees! They won't sting you unless you grab them and hold them against your skin, and then they might oblige, but more likely, they'll gladly just fly away if you let them. I have an Oregon variety of those, plus the small Mason bees, and some others. I do see some of the honeybees, too, as several neighbors have hives. Lucky them!

  2. I do t know if we have mason bees here. Some bee impersonators have been pointed out to me. They are a fly of some sort, I think. But as long as they help pollinate, I'm happy.