Bug Doctor (and really anyone else)

ZachS. z5 Littleton, COJuly 23, 2014

Tired of hijacking the other one? Haha, got some more snapshots I thought you would enjoy. Though, honestly your probably getting tired of these lol.

Let me know what you think of my "bee house" I don't think I got the holes drilled deep enough :/ (only about 3" was the longest drill bits I have handy) but I used 1/4 and 3/16 holes.

And these digger/long horned bees were getting down on some corn flowers this morning.

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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Wonderful photos, Zach!! You are quite the photographer - I've really been enjoying the photos you post :)

I've never heard of either digger or a longhorn bees, so googled them both. The digger bee is especially interesting - found this site with good info: http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Pests/diggers.htm

So you make a nesting box for them to encourage their pollinating your flowers?


    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 7:02PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Thanks Marj. I'm not all that good though, just piddle around some lol.

I think we ought to have a photography thread, maybe Ill start that one, or, hey, lets make this one!

EVERYONE! Post your photos here, any kind. Flowers, vegetable gardens, bugs? Or any ol thing you want!

I saw one of those green digger bees last year, it had made a nest tube right about the center of the lawn. I have never seen another since. Too bad, I love any and all kids of bees, I find them fascinating. It's really astounding how many there actually are.

Yeah, the house is for bees like leafcutters and orchard bees who are SUPPOSED to lay their eggs inside those holes. We'll see how well it works. (I don't have good luck with these types of things, but since I have had some free time this week I went for it).

I really just like to see them around because I think they are neat, the only plants I grow that really REQUIRE insects are squash and cucumbers, and the squash bees are pretty dependable without fancy housing (I don't think they'd use the holes anyways).

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 8:53PM
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bugdoctor(5 CO)

Zach- nicely done! I think it looks great. I too am not in the need of pollination services from the natives, I simply like seeing them around and promoting their habitat.

I will snap a few photos from my phone of the ones I have around tomorrow. In my experience, nobody shows up in the first year. Not sure if they need the phenols to dissipate from the wood or what the deal is, but certain species will start using it next year. I try and make the holes 5 inches deep at the least, as the leaf cutters oviposit the males in the longest tubes first, then females. If the holes are not very long, they will only lay females (at least from what I read ages ago). The mason bees might have the same behavior, but don't quote me on that. I've also read to avoid cedar or other aromatic wood species, but I made all of mine out of old cedar fencing, or out of cut tree limb sections from pruning and never had any issues with bees using them.

I also found that the front should face east to get direct sun in the morning. This warms them up and allows flight. In the beginning when I started making the blocks and hotels, I never had any visitors. Once I figured out to face them towards the sun, they started using them. You will find that all kinds of sizes of holes will get used, even down to 3 mm. The littlest Hyleus are using these right now, packing the cells with mud once they finish. So cool.

I got some inspiration from the link I provided (or one similar).

Thanks for starting the thread and sharing your awesome photos! I hope others enjoy them as much as I have.

Here is a link that might be useful: Insect hotel inspiration

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 12:44AM
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bugdoctor(5 CO)

Your bee block got me thinking about the 'bees needs'. If you have kids or are interested in helping to document which native bees and wasps are around, this might be right up your alley.

I've never participated, but I know several who have and really enjoyed it last summer. One woman I talked to in Fort Collins needed additional blocks as the summer progressed. She told me she was so amazed at the diversity in her tiny yard. I thought that was pretty cool.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bees needs

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 1:11AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Thanks Doc. Maybe this winter I will go ahead and drill those holes deeper and add some more sizes to it.

I appreciate the tips and links, and glad you enjoyed the photos.

I know you don't specialize in bees but I saw some new ones today. One looked identical to the ones pictured in this post, except it had a white face. The others are super tiny and swarm my one sunflower that the birds planted. They have a greyish thorax and a dark yellow/amber abdomen.

I am going to look into that bees needs, sounds pretty cool! Thanks for that!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 11:15PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

I'm going add to this thread since it's bee related, and it's what got me to looking at a bee I saw in my yard yesterday! I've never seen one like this before. It was your typical hairy yellow and black, but what struck me was a bright orange band on it's back just below the wings. Now normally, I don't get this close to bees. But I was walking by my cone flowers and noticed one busy eating it's nectar. And Zach's thread here got me interested, so I watched it a bit. That's when I noticed the orange band!

The closest I could find was one called a tri-colored or orange-banded bumble bee - the one I saw looked pretty close to this pic off a site I found:

Has anyone else noticed this type of bee in Colorado?

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 6:59PM
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bugdoctor(5 CO)

The white-faced bee might be a Hyleaus sp. I'm not sure which Hyleaus we have in Colorado, but they do have a white face, not from setae or hairs but their cuticle is more white in color.

I have seen so many native bees in the last two days. I walked through the perennial garden at CSU today during the lunch hour and the bees are in abundance. They have so many cool cone flowers in their gardens (bright red, white, dwarf, etc.) and the bumble bees are flocking to all of them.

I think this is Bombus fraternus

Mystywoods, I agree, the bumble bees are out in force. I must have seen a dozen of the orange-banded abdomen bumble bees. I think they could be Bombus huntii or Bombus centralis.
I was just watering the flowers here in Lafayette and saw one long-horned bee and another parasitic Cuckoo bee (Stelis sp.) If only I had the patience to take their photos!

I have made a couple of insect houses (hotels) over the years. I add a block or two for the mason orchard bees in the early spring. Right now the tiny little bees are filling up the littlest twigs and finishing them off with mud.
The Isodontia grass wasps are out and about too. They paralyze tree crickets and carry them back to the nest holes, then finish the end of the hole with grass clippings (which you can see in the image below).

Here's what one of mine looks like at various times throughout the year.

I dont have the mason bee blocks out right now, but here is one of them (Zach these have to be next on your build list).

Thanks for sharing!
I hope there is more to come.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 11:08PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO


Yeah, we have tons of bumble bees this year. Some days they outnumber the honeybees in the yard. I have seen those orange ones before, very cool picture! (I am jealous, I have never been able to get a bumble to sit still long enough to take a good picture!)

Honeybees are about the most aggressive bees we have here in Colorado I think. I have a theory that even they will generally tolerate you when they are out and about feeding since they aren't trying to defend their hive. The native bees are, from what I have read, really gentle creatures. I get right up close and personal with "my" bees, I think they are awesome. Though, I suppose if you have an allergy to them you'd probably err on the side of caution.

Thanks for sharing that great photo! Keep them coming!


We have a neighbor who's entire yard is flowers. Bulbs in spring, Iris in early summer and about this time of year it's all purple coneflowers and sunflowers and it is littered with bumblebees. I think I know what I should plant next year...

I like your houses! Way cool. I am going to have to get busy. What do you use for the inserts in your mason bee blocks?

I don't think I've ever seen the grass wasps (I just googled them) but I have seen the ones that are red with black wings (not mud daubers, though, I had a buddy who pitched his tent right next to a hive of those things when I was at Ft. Leonard Wood, lol). Last year I had some solitary wasps that had made their homes in some railroad ties and they exclusively hunted flies. We sadly had to remove the ties and their cells were packed to the gills with fly carcasses. I miss those guys.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 1:22AM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Nice bee pictures. I was out this morning trying to get a few pictures and it certainly isn't easy. Maybe early afternoon will be easier when there's a lot of them buzzing about. Did manage to get a couple fair ones so far.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 12:12PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Awesome shots Gjcore! I really like your red sunflower. What kind is it? I had planned to plant a bunch of sunflowers this year, but, couldn't find a spot for them.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 2:09PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Thanks ZachS. It was just a packet I picked up at Lowes. Ferry-Morse mixed colors is all it says.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 2:36PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

A couple more pics. Not really sure these are bees. I know there's a lot of flies that look kind of like bees. Nonetheless nice pics of the Hens and Chicks flowers.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 3:26PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Very cool! I like it! I have never seen hens and chicks flowering, shoot, I didn't even know they did!

The top is a leafcutter bee, the bottom is a carder bee, a solitary bee that comes from Europe. An interesting thing about leafcutters, they have their pollen collecting hairs on the underside of the abdomen instead of on their legs.

Hoverfiles are also important pollinators, and many do look like bees. I tell the difference because the flies, from what I have seen, have much larger eyes and also only have one set of wings, whereas bees have 2. The hoverflies seem to like my chamomile and radish flowers more than anything else.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2014 at 5:53PM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

LOVE your pictures, everyone! These are old pics from me! I had no idea there were so many different "kinds" of bees! I think mostly what I have are "honey bees," but don't (obviously) really know that! I'm one of those people that are allergic to bees, so I tend to stay away. I leave them alone and they--mostly--leave me alone! Anyway, here's what I have--and my favorite butterfly pics too! These are on a Chrysanthemum (a/k/a Dendranthemum) 'Hillside Pink Sheffield'. This is the latest thing I have blooming, always needs to be covered a few times, but it's an absolute bee/butterfly magnet and worth the covering and uncovering!

A butterfly, a moth, and a fly--I think!

Bee and butterflies!


Knew I'd get carried away if I started to look at these pics!

For anyone looking for really good "bee plants," fall asters are another absolute magnet. The downside is that they're very invasive! Mine got half given away at the Spring Swap, and the other half got Weed-B-Gon'ed this year, but for the last few years it's been hard for me to even cut the grass near it because there would always be SO many bees on it! It's hard to take pics of them on this because they "blend in" so easily, but here's one pic where you can see one of them. It Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome', but there are lots of varieties!

And, as has been mentioned somewhere around here recently, English lavender is another bee magnet!


    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 2:33AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Great pictures Skybird! I love the painted lady butterflies. I remember growing those from caterpillars when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade and my son grew them in daycare last year. I don't see lots of butterflies in my yard, unless they happen to just be passing through. We get the skipper butterflies ever so often though.

I also like your chrysanthemums. I bet it's nice to have some color in the yard late into fall, even they have to be covered and uncovered haha. Thanks for posting Skybird!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 10:18AM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

An old picture of mine that I came across when I was growing borage.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 11:14AM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Great photos everyone! Skybird - love the butterfly pics!!

I caught some shots of the orange banded bee that seems to love my coneflowers:

Couldn't catch all the other types of bees on my Russian Sage - they just moved too fast!

I think you are right, bugdoctor - I think it is bombus huntii: Coloradostate.edu site mentions them and has a pic:

Bumbus centralis has the orange at the bottom of it's tail, from a pic I found when I googled it, so don't think that's my little guy.


This post was edited by mstywoods on Sun, Jul 27, 14 at 19:22

    Bookmark   July 27, 2014 at 6:52PM
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bugdoctor(5 CO)

Great photos everyone! It's so cool to image others honing in on the bees in their yards to get some photos of them. Thanks for sharing them!

Zach, I fill the holes of the mason bee blocks with 'natural parchment paper'. My wife uses it when baking so we have it around the house. It comes in rolls like plastic wrap or foil, so cutting the right length is easy. I then wrap each parchment paper around a screwdriver or pencil depending on the size of the holes and insert the roll into the holes. Then a quick tap unfurls the paper. I can then pull the bee tubes out and let the bees develop away from predators in my basement. Each hole gets a new parchment wrap and they fill it back up in March/April/May when I put out the clean blocks with a taped small box of the developing bees to the bottom of the bee block. There is a ton of sites that can help if you are going to give it a go next spring. I just think they are so neat to have around in the spring!

Skybird, you have some great pics with several flies, bees, and Leps. The first picture is centered on a Tachinid fly (Archytas apicifer). They have a neat life history where they attach to caterpillars as larvae and then penetrate the cuticle, using them as a host. They are common on asters in the fall. The second picture is of a flower fly, the rat-tailed maggot, the Drone fly. They are awesome honey bee mimics, though you can see they hold their wings more fighter jet like than folded bee like in the third image. Thanks for bringing up mums and asters as pollinator attractors. I don't have either in my yard. I tried donated seeds of 'new England asters' but had no germination. I plan to purchase some seed this winter and give it another go. If you plan to weed b gone any pollinator attractors, I'd be happy to find them a home in my yard and happy to dig them as well!

I raised painted ladies as a kid too, and have done so as an adult as well! We still buy them for college students at CSU!

I've never grown borage nor do I know why others do, but I got them on my list to wintersow next spring. It looks like the bumble bees love them! From what I've read, the plants are not so pretty, but I'm okay with that.

Mstywoods, I love the colors and contrast of those Echinacea photos! They are stunning! I sat here staring at them for some time! Foliage, flowers, and insects...what more could anyone want! After looking at pics on the web, it looks like Bombus huntii. Beautiful. The bumble bees were so into the cone flowers, I got a couple pictures with my cell phone the other day (posted above). They could care less I was there.

Gjcore, you are so right, these guys are not easy to get good photos of but it sure is fun watching them and learning about them.

Thanks again everyone for sharing. Keep em coming.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 12:19AM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO


So you just pull the rolls of parchment out of the tubes and put them in your basement until spring when you put them back in a block for them to emerge? That's really neat. What size holes do the mason bees use?

The bees do love borage (it's also known as bee bread), which is why I grow it. I like the flowers, I think they are pretty, and you can eat the flowers and leaves. The leaves are really hairy and mildly irritating to me, so I don't eat them, but I do crush some up in my ice water and it gives it a flavor kind of like not-quite-ripe melons.

The plants are little weedy and wild looking, but, IMO the flowers make up for it. I don't find it to offensive, and like I said, the bees really appreciate it. If I collect some seeds this year from mine I can get them to you if you want.

Marj, I love your pics! I ALMOST bought some coneflowers this week but I keep talking myself out of it. Is it too late to plant them you think? I was also eyeing the rudebeckias and gaillardia. I'm thinking of filling in a border with native flowers for insects, but I don't know if I should wait til next year or go ahead and put them in now.

So instead I bought a bunch of zinnias that were on sale to put in a large pot.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 3:30PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Thanks Zach and bugdoctor. I'd never heard of coneflowers before I moved to Colorado or before I moved into our current house. The former owner had them planted in the backyard. I sure love them now!

I bought a hybrid coneflower a couple of years ago called Hot Papaya and planted it in the same bed with the others. I did really well that year, but unfortunately has not come back (and I later learned that hybrids don't remain true from seed). I did do some transplanting of my coneflowers last fall, moving several clumps from the main bed to other beds. A couple of those clumps aren't blooming yet, so I'm still holding out hope that maybe they'll appear! Here's a pic of the plant from that year:

I would say definitely it's not too late to plant the coneflowers you buy.

This post was edited by mstywoods on Mon, Jul 28, 14 at 19:46

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 7:42PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

I saw some papaya something or other coneflowers the other day. They didn't look like those poofy ones though, they looked like normal purple ones, except they were red. You're not supposed to tell me I can plant them now, lol. Now Im gonna go buy them dammit!

Doc- heres a picture of one of my borage plants. It's done blooming, so it doesn't look too great, but when its full of the blue flowers, it doesn't look so bad haha.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 8:37PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Haha, doesn't look so bad. Borage is about the ugliest plant out there. Though it's flowers are pretty tasty and look wonderful on a salad.

The bees do love it though.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 8:45PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Got another picture earlier today though it's not very clear. I'm thinking I might upgrade my camera soon. Down in the hugelkultur bed there's a squash flower and there's a yellow spider, maybe covered with squash pollen, that has caught a bee/fly.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 8:53PM
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bugdoctor(5 CO)

Saw a pretty sweet solitary wasp today. This is Bembix sp., which is pretty cool. They nest in sand and sand only, often in aggregation. The females hunt flies and then live feed their developing offspring as they mature, like birds do. Come on...that's cool even if you don't like bees and wasps.

I don't know if they pack a big sting, but they look like they would. It let me get really close with my iPhone though.

As for the borage:
For plants that are not so pretty, I'm trying to hide them in with other prettier foliage plants. That way I get the blooms, like globe thistles, but really don't have to see the less than attractive foliage. We'll have to see next year if it turns out okay.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 10:06PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

I guess your right, it's pretty darn ugly, but like I said, I think the flowers make up for it, I think they are pretty cool. And, at least it doesn't stink like Russian sage. I laid a bunch of mulch recently at a house that had it everywhere, that stuff gave me a headache.

Doc, anything that kills flies is far better than just neat in my book. I hate flies with a passion, so, if I could get some of those wasps to come work for me I'd pay them top dollar. Course, you're right, they look like they pack a punch.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:01PM
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bugdoctor(5 CO)

I was able to zoom in a bit, which I almost can't believe from an iPhone camera. Check out that stinger (ovipositor)!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2014 at 11:37PM
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Found this on the INSIDE of the front window last week and decided to let him stay as long as he wanted. This is how it turned out yesterday.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 12:48PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

Yeah, I don't think I want to find out how much that stinger hurts. I think we'll have to find a braver guinea pig haha.

I love mantises. Many years ago I caught one that got in our kitchen and kept him an old fishtank for a few days. It was awesome watching it catch the moths and flies I put in there. Lighting fast! When I worked at the old Arapahoe Power Plant, we did a lot of "landscaping" and I would save as many as I could to bring home to my garden.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 6:24PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Got a nice picture of a hummingbird moth this morning. There are also some real hummingbirds that have been stopping for the bee balm and clary sage flowers but no luck in getting close enough to get a picture.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

Last fall when I was on Grand Mesa I found this hummingbird moth sleeping on the screen door of my cabin one morning. I couldn't tell what it was from the "bottom side," so I got my camera and opened the door--very slowly--and went out to have a look! Way cool to be so up close and personal with one! I had a few of them in my yard this spring, but they seem to have disappeared for now.

Don't know where my hummers are this year either! Had a couple very early on, but even with my species Penstemon in full bloom right now, I haven't seen any around for a couple months now. Miss 'em! I know it's getting out of the insect category, but here's a couple Broad-tailed hummer pics from my stay in that same cabin this spring. There were Black-tailed hummingbirds there too, the first time I had seen them, and the first time I had seen two different kinds at the same time.

The Earth would be an empty place without all these amazing critters!


    Bookmark   August 3, 2014 at 1:56PM
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ZachS. z5 Littleton, CO

No worries about non insects, I think we can be open to anything here! There's enough rules, we don't need more! I love the hummer pics, and the moths! Perhaps they have migrated through by now? I don't THINK they are year round residents, and maybe it wasn't a good hatch this year (I have only seen one at our feeder, though that's a 100% increase over years past).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 12:03PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


These bees are all over my yard. They love the hyssop this time of year. I love to sit near the plants and run my fingers through the leaves. The bees are so calm they ignore me but I do love the interaction.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bumblebees

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 2:24PM
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mstywoods(z5, Westminster, CO)

Wow milehighgirl - although I like to see the bumble bees enjoying my flowers, don't think I'd be brave enough to stick my fingers close to them!!! LOL. Glad they were too busy with the nectar to bother you ;) That's very cool!


    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 10:01AM
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mayberrygardener(z5a, Broomfield, CO)

Wow, I love all the pictures! Skybird, did you bring some of that " Chrysanthemum (a/k/a Dendranthemum) 'Hillside Pink Sheffield' " to the swap this spring? Hubby picked up several flowers from you (I can't BELIEVE he didn't ask me which ones I wanted) and the little tag blew off before I could make sure we knew what we had. I think that he grabbed that one if you brought it, and then planted it where it'll get full morning sun but midday it's in the shade, pretty much for the rest of the day. Will it do okay there? It hasn't bloomed, but the greenery sure looks nice LOL
You guys have inspired me to look at making bug boxes... maybe I can attract something out there to eat whatever is eating my strawberries. For the record, I picked slugs off of my beans every day for the past week... their numbers are finally dwindling, but oh do the chickens love those slimy suckers! (no pics of slugs, they're not nearly as pretty as bees, nor are they as pretty as a preying mantis eating a housefly!) This seemed more like a "beneficials" post. Maybe I should put up a pic of the chickens--they've certainly been beneficial in the garden this year!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:22PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Don't forget that hummingbird moths end up laying eggs for next year's tomato hornworms...just saying.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 12:33PM
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