Lots of Bees!

jennie(8 WA)May 26, 2009

Last year there seemed to be hardly any bees; this warm weekend they were everywhere on the native blackberries. Anyone else noticing more bees this year?

Made me happy!

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pepperdude

jennie,

Are the bees you are seeing honeybees, bumblebees or other bees, like mason bees or leafcutter bees? The biggest problem last year was with a scarcity of honeybees. I am still not seeing many this year although I have seen a lot of bumblebees and a small number of other, miscellaneous species.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 5:02PM
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jennie(8 WA)

I'm not sure, they're fuzzy and darkish. Smaller than I usually think of bumbles as being. They're the "usual" bees I see most years. They're on the flowers, not the leaves; but I don't know if leaf-cutter bees visit flowers a lot?

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 9:44PM
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dottyinduncan(z8b coastal BC)

I see bees out now, but I went and looked in our orchard this afternoon and we have virtually NO fruit set. I'm sure it was too cold for the bees when the trees were flowering. Last year the spring was cold too and we had very little fruit. It's quite a worry.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 11:25PM
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madrone(VancIsl BC)

I noticed three species of bumblebees around the blooming cotoneaster yesterday but not a single honeybee. I wonder if this is perhaps not a favorite nectar source or a serious shortage of honeybees?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 1:32AM
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larry_gene

I have seen no lessening of bee populations at my locale in SE Portland over the past 10 years. The mailman just reported a recent swarm of honeybees on the mail route. There are at least 3 kinds of bees on the blackberry blossoms at present.

When the styrax blooms, I expect to see a full crowd of bees.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 1:32AM
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pepperdude

Honeybees should probably visit cotoneaster. It's in the rose family and most other plants in the family, including our most popular fruit trees (apple, pear, plum, etc.) are all favorites of honeybees. There's little doubt in my mind that they are far less common here now than they were 10 and especially 20-30 years ago. I see far more bumblebees in my Seattle garden these days than honeybees, even in mid-summer - prime honeybee time.

Bumblebees come in many sizes and colors - several species are seen in most areas. Many are almost as small as honeybees. As a rule of thumb, if they look "dark" they're prbobably not honeybees, which are a rich golden-brown instead.

Try a google search for honeybees or bumblebees and then click "image" at the top of the screen to get photos of the various kinds.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 3:02PM
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reg_pnw7(WA 7, sunset 4)

I am seeing more honeybees this spring, but then I saw hardly any at all last spring. Lots of bumblebees this year. Declines in honeybees might actually be good for the bumblebees as the two compete for food.

More worrisome to me is that my mason bee blocks have little activity this year. I have seen bees come and go, but one at a time, and I would have to stand at the block for a while to see one. Previous years they were swarming the blocks.

Yes, leafcutter bees visit flowers. They eat pollen and nectar just like other bees. The leaf bits are for nesting material, not food.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 10:56AM
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grenewodewose

Should we worry about not seeing honeybees- an introduced species, as opposed to not seeing all the native bees, flies, hummingbirds etc that pollinated this hemisphere's flowers fine before honebees were introduced?

In my garden, I have yet to see a reduction of any kind of pollinator anytime of the year. My hellebores, even the Xmas bloomers, all set seed every year. And my big chore is cutting down seed heads in the garden before most of my ornamentals enter weed category.

... Don

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 1:07AM
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just_curious(7b/8a Canada)

In the Vancouver BC area I have noticed 3 to 4 times the normal number of bumblebees. The cranberry fields are loaded with them.

I asked a bumblebee expert about the high numbers and her thoughts were that the dryer than normal spring could have resulted in less in nest drownings and more foraging opportunities.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:21AM
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sunnybunny(Z8Northwest)

Howdy, I clicked on this thread because my husband and housemate were concerned about the lack of honey bees this year. We live in Zone8 PacNW, near Tacoma. I'd like everyone to share their ideas regarding plants they they attract the most bees. I plant wild lilac - Ceanthous sp?

Here is a link that might be useful: UPOG - University Place Organic Garden Club

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 7:58PM
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annzgw

I've noticed more this year. I've got way too much clover in my lawn this year and it's full of honey bees. We've put off cutting and killing the clover because of the bees!
Once all my ligustrum blooms I'm sure they'll be all over those too!
My Japanese Snowbell tree was covered with Bumble bees 2 weeks ago.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 12:16AM
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pepperdude

Try planting herbs in the mint family, such as oregano, thyme (all types), culinary sage, savory and even mentha mints (if you dare). These are all favorites of the honeybees in my area, not that there are many. I would hazard a guess that there are a lot more bumblebees in my area than there used to be. This isn't just a phenomenon of this year alone, I would say it has been a several year buildup.

I see fewer really large bumblebees like I did when I was a kid growing up in Renton. We called them "Blackjacks". Anybody else know the big black and yellow bumblebees by that name?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 2:00PM
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CathyJ(USDA-8 West WA)

Cotoneaster, yes! The bees go wild for it in the nursery, the plants are covered!

Cathy
Olympia

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 9:06PM
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lucretia1

We've seen bumblers of all sizes in the garden this year, but not the first honeybee. Today one of the really big bumblebees tried to help me plant a shrub and ended up at the bottom of the hole and half-way under water. I was able to get him (her?) out and left her on a bush to recover. She was gone later, so hoping she recoverd from a wet bee butt.

The bees really seem to go for single flowers--california poppies, single roses. They also like tubular flowers--the big black ones love the delphiniums and honeysuckle. Lavenders are also popular. The interesting thing is that a particular type of flower seems to mostly attract a single species of bee. They don't seem to mind people at all, they just want to get to their flowers, so we've been having a grand time trying to photograph the fast little things.

Here are a few on different flowers in our yard. We have a couple of single roses that were covered with bees--you'd walk by and the bush would be buzzing.

Bee on a poppy:

Bee on a rose:

They've gone nuts over the tall alliums:

The funny thing is that the really big, slow bees seem to be the hardest to catch and photograph--maybe because they eat on the wing.

I've added finding a source for identifying bumblebees to my "to-do" list.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 9:06PM
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agertz

I'm northeast of Portland OR in the WA Cascades. Last year I put in two 'bee gardens' per the Berkeley U website 'Urban Bee Gardens' and this year they are almost like hives they're so busy! I have at least a dozen species of bumble bees alone.

Amy

Here is a link that might be useful: Urban Bee Gardens

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 11:29AM
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westcoastj(7A)

Nanaimo, BC here. I too have noticed more bumblebees this year than any year I can remember. I have seen hundreds at least, and a total of ONE honeybee the entire year. My yields are ok though, except my zucchinni flowers have been wilting after opening without any zucchini's behind them! My favorite bumble this year:

On my Perrenial Sage

    Bookmark   June 28, 2009 at 11:26AM
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pollen_nation(8)

We have more honeybees, bumblebees and the little waspy looking bees this year than the last several years combined. They are really digging the shirley poppies and lavender, and the small "bees" seem to love the virginia creeper.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 12:06AM
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