Queen Bee


I was at my high school reunion not that long ago, and was talking to someone I hadn’t seen in years. Our conversation had somehow turned to bees. After talking a bit, it became apparent that we had a shared interest in them. He started telling me about bumblebee queens and how they nest. I found it fascinating. They commonly use old rodent burrows and are attracted to mouse urine, which presumably helps them locate the aforementioned rodent burrows. How had I not known more about this?

Fast forward to the end of summer. I was headed outside to my car to go over to a friend’s house. Along my driveway I have some sedum planted. It’s always a big hit with the bees.  As I looked at my sedum, I noticed a very big bumblebee. I mean BIG. If it was any bigger I could have thrown a saddle on it and ridden it.

Instantly, my brain became consumed by one giant connect the dots puzzle.

“This dot connects to that one, and then the next. . . Whoops, I messed up. . . Go back. . . Wish I wouldn’t have used pen. . . . Okay, that’s better. . . And the last dot. . . It’s finished!”

What did the dots create? A queen bee! Or ‘gyne’ to use the proper term.

I quickly pulled out my cellphone and did my best impression of insect paparazzi.

“Over here, over here!”

“Smile!”

“Say cheese!”

“No, I didn’t want you to say a type of cheese like parmesan or roquefort, just the word Cheese!”

“Okay, that’s better. Thank you!” (takes picture)

The video in this post was taken maybe a few days later in my garden. The bee seemed to have been hanging out in my garden for a few days, presumable fattening up on all the tasty nectar. It kind of reminds me of the scene from the movie Alien, where the alien opens its mouth and a tiny mouth comes out.

For more extremely short bug videos, check out my YouTube.

 

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Book Report – Pollinators of Native Plants

Time for another book report! This book is the first one I bought when I started gardening with native plants a few short years ago. I think it’s an amazingly helpful book, and bonus, I’ve even been able to meet the author once!

The book I’ll be covering today is Pollinators of Native Plants by Heather Holm.

I’m not exactly sure how I originally found out about this book, I might have seen it in one of my plant catalogs. Curious, I retrieved a copy from the library and began to peruse its pages. This was when my garden was a little smaller, and I was beginning to notice more bugs hanging out in it. “What is that bug?” I’d often wonder. Armed with this book, I could finally start putting names to faces.Read More »

Bee Rescue: 911

Bees in the Basement

It’s time for another installment in the award-winning, critically-acclaimed, much hyped and always typed series, Bee Rescue: 911. This will likely be the last entry in this series for a while, at least until winter is over. As always, the following is a dramatic recreation of actual events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It was Garbage Day Eve and I had an old fake Christmas tree in the basement that I wanted to dispose of. It was shedding needles (I thought only real trees did that?) and my cats liked to chew on it. Plus, it was taking up valuable real estate in the basement, AKA my Kitty Litter Dungeon.

Read More »

Book Report – Pollinator Conservation Handbook

Time for a book report. I’m calling this a book report instead of a book review because that sounds less pretentious. Book reports aren’t pretentious. It’s also a little more fun to call it a book report, like I’m in middle school or something.

There are a ton of great books out there to help you on your journey to gardening and conservation enlightenment. Personally, I like to preview books from my local library before deciding whether it deserves a permanent spot in my reference library.

The book I’d like to do my first book report on is Pollinator Conservation Handbook, by the Xerces Society.Read More »

Dead and Buried

This time of year my garden looks like a graveyard. Stems and seedheads become headstones for buried plants. Everything looks dead. D-E-D, dead.

Me: But, they’re not dead, they’re just sleeping. Right?

(Tears start to well up in my eyes, a sob begins to build in my throat)

Me: Right?   Right?!?

Condescendingly Reassuring Adult: Sure sweetie, they’re just sleeping…Have another cookie.

Me: Okay. (nom, nom, nom)Read More »

Bee Rescue: 911

Beeware of Spiders

The following is a dramatic recreation of actual events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Around September, an ever-expanding patch of sedum in the back of my garden begins to bloom. It’s a sad sign that summer is coming to a close, but I always look forward to it for the cloud of hungry pollinators it attracts. After a long day of work, I usually make a bee-line for the sedum to check out what the buzz is. Most often, there are some herds of chubby little bumblebees grazing on it. Occasionally, I’ll see some larger, winged visitors like a Painted Lady butterfly.

Read More »

A Formal Introduction

Apparently, I’ve forgotten my manners. I’ve gone this long without giving you a proper introduction to my garden.

Garden, say hello to [insert your name here]

[Insert your name here], say hello to my garden.

Some of my garden’s favorite hobbies include, photosynthesizing, blooming, and scrapbooking. What are some of your favorite hobbies, [insert your name here]?

Read More »

Bee Rescue: 911

Water Rescue

The following is a dramatic recreation of actual events. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

It was a normal Monday. A crisp, fall day in October. I had just returned home from work and was walking through my garden. There wouldn’t be many days left to enjoy it. Nearing my bird bath, I noticed a tiny commotion in the water. Trouble. Hearing the Baywatch theme song in my head, I leapt into action. A tiny bumblebee was flipped on its back, treading water, fighting for survival. No time to think, only react.

Read More »

Partridge Pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata)

This is one of my favorite plants in my garden, partridge pea. It’s an annual, and it’s pretty easy to grow. It’s also a legume, meaning it will put some nitrogen in the soil.

The big reason I enjoy it so much is because of the bumblebees that visit it. The bumblebees “buzz” pollinate it, meaning they use their flight muscles to vibrate the pollen out. I usually plant a patch of it, and once it starts blooming it’s packed with bumblebees buzzing their hearts out. It almost sounds like a chorus of tiny dentist’s drills. Maybe that’s not the most appealing way to describe it…

A buzz here, a buzz there, a buzz everywhere.

That’s better…

They also have pretty cool seed pods, if you’re into seed pods, which, let’s face it who isn’t. When the seed pods dry out, they split open, twisting and curling apart, flinging seeds to a new home. They kind of remind me of curled antelope horns.

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The top row has some seed pods that haven’t split, then a pile of seeds, and the bottom are seed pods that split. It’s fun when you pick them and they pop open in your hand. Yeah, I know how to have fun.

Enjoy the video from my YouTube page of these bumblebees in my partridge peas.