Do you remember the small patch of wild flowers under the trees on the South side of the house. With the flowering weeds. Though weeds are only plants in the wrong place!
It is now heaving with bees and even the odd butterfly has arrived. The flowers are fading but the bees are getting as much as they can from them.
Check this bumblebee out. Turn the sound up if you can so you can hear them – there were more than one buzzing about.
He is so determined to stay afloat.
Unlike honey bees that were introduced into the Americas from Europe; the bumblebee is a native to the USA. There are 41 species of native bumblebee in the Americas. Some are endangered. All are pollinators. When I banned pesticides from the fields we began to see an uptick in native bees and butterflies. This is the most bumblebees I have seen though. There were five in this patch alone. The queen hibernates in solitary splendour underground for the winter. In the spring she emerges and finds a hole in the ground to produce baby bees and start her annual hive. Her hive is built underground – maybe in an abandoned mouse or rabbit hole (or maybe a mink burrow if life is fair). Their summer hives can get quite big in the right conditions. We have plenty of native bumblebees out this spring so I suspect there is a strong bumblebee hive somewhere or maybe more than one. Yet another reason to have wild spaces full of wild flowers.
5 cool facts about bumblebees.
After struggling to get honey bees established here on the farmy I soon realised that they do not belong here. Honey Bees are not natives and need to be husbanded through the inclement winters, so I have turned to creating spaces to encourage habitats for the 500 different species of native bee, including this humble bumbler and mason bees. (Bumble bees, carpenter bees, plasterer bees, cuckoo bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees and mining bees are all types of native bees in Illinois.)
It is super important to note that honey bees are not the only pollinators.
Bumblebees are great for helping tomatoes pollinate because they are so large they shake the plant. And tomatoes are pollinated via vibration.
As pollinators mason bees (also native to Illinois) are 120x more effective than honey bees.
Pawpaws are pollinated by flies which is why their flowers smell like rotten meat. Nice. Our pawpaws have begun to migrate. New trees are popping up in front of the old ones, chasing the sun, which is filling me with delight. More food for the birds when we are gone from this earth.
Talking of imported species: Mr Flowers is always grateful for calm days. On windy Midwest days he stays in his shed by his mirror. His tail is so long it makes it hard for him to walk on windy days. Hampered by his broken foot too.
Though he has been walking with his adapted peg leg for probably 4 or 5 years now.
The RugRats and the Big Pigs
And look who I found (below). One of the missing ducks. Sitting deep in her nest in the back of the barn. (I will not be bringing fertilised eggs in for her as John has stated emphatically that he will not support any more ducks. Which is probably why he is refusing to fill the pond. Real life is not instagram pretty).
I believe we have also lost the drake. There was only one – and I have not seen him for a few days.
Isn’t she beautiful.
We have had a couple of warm overcast days with showers. But now cool weather is approaching with the overnights going down into the low 40’s. All the tomatoes are out so let’s hope it does not drop further than that. I will wait on planting out the squash. They can grow in the glasshouse a bit longer.
Maybe I should let a bumblebee in to pollinate in the glasshouse! Once I get flowers on the zuchinnis I will lock the cats into the house and open the glasshouse doors. See who pops in.
I hope you have a great Sunday.
For those of you who are celebrating: Happy Mothers Day.
Here is the latest TKG podcast. I am working hard on this medium as I quite like it and I can only improve. Thank you for supporting me in this. This particular podcast turned out quite amusing because Boo decided to leap up and bark at the delivery man right in the middle of it. I left his addition in there. This is going to be a thoroughly modern podcast series after all. And I have not quite learned how to edit!!
There are so few bumble bees here (where I live) anymore. Too many farms are being turned into subdivisions or small farmetts. Very few people want to protect the habit of a bumble bee—lose north-facing soil, under bits of wood (or old boards). They need shade and protection to create bumblebee abodes. But I try here. I have houses for the other native pollinators and I leave bits of bark, and old board over north facing soft dirt areas just for the bees. Thankfully I see several native species here in my yard.
Leaving boards and old bits of curved terracotta all over is magic. Plus water in shallow dishes in hot summers. We just have to let ourselves be a little less tidy!!
No problem with that on a farm! 😂
🙂 No that is never a problem 🙂
Animals never fail to amaze me. They have grit
I love our native bees. No sun today though so they are all probably tucked away in the warm somewhere.
Hooray for bumblebees — and all native bees. I am currently in training with Oregon State Univ to be certified as a melittologist (study of native bees). I am working as a volunteer for the Oregon Bee Atlas which is tracking native bee populations in Oregon. And, like you, I am doing my best to create a bee friendly environment for them in my yard. Thanks for highlighting the importance of native bees!
Wow – Annette!! That is marvelous! I am thrilled with your studies.
Can you tell us what kind of bumble bee this is. They are quite large. I bet they are the common type!
It is really hard to tell the specific variety without getting up close and personal — like with a microscope. Here is a photo reference of bumblebees in Illinois. Maybe you will recognize one of them. I find it’s helpful to know what to look for pattern-wise.
Great resource. Thank you! Now I need to train these bumble bees to pause for me!!
I live in Oregon too… Love all the different types of bees and bumblebees I see out and about.
That is so good/ a healthy environment for the bees and bumblebees!!
I get John’s feelings about raising more ducks! Our sitting mama hatched 🐣 out 10 ducklings 🐥 and we have another mama sitting a nest. They do multiply quickly! And inevitably we end up with too many drakes! Just love all the pics and video today! For the past few years our bee 🐝 hives have swarmed. And this year one swarmed twice! I think that’s unusual. We caught both swarms and are so hoping to replenish our honey 🍯 supply.
They are swarming early! That means lots to eat or a queen war!! I love honey. You are warmer there which is probably why they do better.
My Rosemary has been flowering since November and I saw bees at work even in January!
I’m glad one of the ducks has turned up, I hope you find more!
I am willing to bet there is another sitting. Probably on chicken eggs!
Bumblebee loveliness…such industrious little creatures living their lives in support of the rest of us… ❤
Awesome post about the bumblebees! Thanks and Happy Mother’s Day!!!
I saw the worlds biggest bumblebee the other day. It was the size of my thumb!! Slightly scary!
That does sound scary! And huge!
Thank you for the visit to your yard! Happy Mother’s Day to you.
I had a huge bee inside yesterday. I was happy that he wanted to go outside. I love Mr. Flowers. He’s still looking dapper!
Even more than growing food bees of any kind in my garden means I am doing something right.
There seems to be a lot of bumble bees around here, maybe a testament to the untidiness of my yard! I have a friend who raises grass fed beef and has been working on improving the soil on his farm for years. He was absolutely delighted when he saw worms and when there were enough insects to attract the swallows when he was working in the fields. Sometimes it’s the small things that are big.
Yes! And good for him. I remember when I first saw worms out here – and we have piles of swallows returned this year!
We don’t have bumblebees. But I do regularly see small, gentle, solitary native bees in my white callistemon, in the murraya, the passionfruit, the hibiscus and the turmeric. Mind you, they have to beat the sunbirds to the nectar…
Your garden always sounds so idyllic. Hibiscus and passion fruit! What a gorgeous pairing.
Scarlet hibiscus, so beautiful. But the turmeric flowers are the most beautiful of all, like pink and yellow pineapples!
Oh – I grew that one year – but they won’t grow through the winters. So beautiful.
Are you phasing out ducks altogether?
There will be non new ones – I always thought the duck eggs would sell but there is very little interest..
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. It was a worthwhile experiment.
Great post Celi .. so interesting! We have bumbles here .. gorgeous things. Im a pollinator fan. I didn’t know that about mason bees, or flies!
Flies do a lot of pollinating – though they are such maligned creatures no one wants to admit it!! 😀