Category: bees

bumble bee houses

There are lots of bumble bee queens looking around for a place to call home right now. Why not try to create a home they may like? I’ve read that, statistically, for people who study this sort of thing bumble bees only use about 30% of the homes humans try to make. Well, then I better make more than one!

I learned some tips from this video by David Goulsom, founder of the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust.

In nature, bumble bees often build nests in abandoned mammal holes. To approximate the insulation scientists say they like, I used dryer lint. (I haven’t bought any new clothes lately, so hopefully my lint isn’t toxic. I also wear natural clothes and organic when possible, but that’s surely something to think about. Don’t use your dryer lint if you use fabric softener!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did three different designs in a sunny spot (the featured image above.) One is ground level, two are dug down into the ground. I also built one in to a shaded hillside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know yet if the queens will choose to live in these spots, but I thought I’d share how to do it in case you’d like to build your own.

Now is the time!

This queen spent quite a bit of time drinking from the flower I placed by the front door, retreating into the house , and then coming back to drink more! I hope she makes it her new nest — time will tell.

queen bees!

This is the time of year when the young queen bumble bees leave hibernation to stock up on food and then establish a new nest. Here are some photos of the queens I’ve seen on the farm… most of them are yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii) which are very camera friendly. The last photo is a different, unidentified species who usually fly away very quickly!

This post also highlights the need to have early forage available! Crocus and pieris japonica attracted the most I’ve seen this year. Daffodil, sweet box, red-flowering currant, and my plum trees have also had some visitors.

 

Not as pretty, since she’s not in a flower… but it’s the only photo I have been able to get of a different species. These queens are camera-shy.

 

 

mole hills to bee buffets!

Do you have lots of mole hills in your lawn? Don’t despair! They could be the perfect way to introduce bee-friendly flowers.

Lawns that are a mixture of grass and flowering plants that are short enough to be mow-able are a great way to contribute to pollinator forage. There are commercial mixes available, such as this (untreated, bee-safe) version from American Meadows.

I just purchased one pound of organic white clover and walked my entire property, seeding every mole hill I encountered. Over time I’ll probably add other flowers too. I’ll post an update once they get growing!

Native Bee Conservation resources

Click here to download my full Powerpoint presentation in PDF format.

Organizations

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is an international non-profit organization that protects wild life through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat.

Pollinator Partnership is a 501(c)3 organization and the largest in the world dedicated exclusively to the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems.

Pollinator Restoration Project: Central Oregon Coast is the citizen group helping to restore the pollinator habitat of the Highway 101 corridor from Yachats to Newport.

Blossomwood Farmstead is our local Yachats native bee sanctuary.

Books

The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees by Joseph S. Wilson

Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton Field Guides) by Paul H. Williams, Robbin W. Thorpe, Leif L. Richardson, and Sheila R. Colla

Nectar and Pollen Plants of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Dictionary of Plants Used by Honey Bees by D. M. Burgett, L. D. Johnston, B. A. Stringer

Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees by Lori Weidenhammer

100 Plants to Feed the Bees: Provide a Healthy Habitat to Help Pollinators Thrive by the Xerces Society

Attracting Native Pollinators: The Xerces Society Guide to Conserving North American Bees and Butterflies and Their Habitat by the Xerces Society

A Buzz in the Meadow: The Natural History of a French Farm by Dave Goulson

A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees by Dave Goulson

Helpful PDF

Bumble Bees of the Western United States from the Forest Service

Help track bumble bees

Bumble Bee Watch

Report native bee sightings (and other species) in the Cape Perpetua area

iNaturalist Cape Perpetua bioblitz

 

leafcutter bees!

We received our shipment of leafcutter bees today!

Leafcutter bees are solitary bees and great pollinators. Want to know more? Check out this page.

I bought these from Crownbees.com.

When I first opened the package, I saw the pheromone that is used to entice the bees to stay nearby. I set up the house and sprayed it on the nest tubes.

Next… the bag of cocoons, some of which had already hatched out!

I opened the bag and installed it above the nesting material. One little girl came out to say hi.

Here’s the view of the bee house, right on the edge of our garden — facing South to catch as many sun rays as possible.

June blooms!

What is blooming for pollinators at Blossomwood Farmstead in June? Here’s a huge list, though I may have missed some!

Bird’s foot trefoil. Lotus corniculatus. Origin: Eurasia and Northern Africa. Often used in wildflower seed packets. Invasive weed in North America. Bumbles love it!

Borage. Borago officinalis. Origin: Europe. Edible herb. I’ve heard that it releases new nectar every 45 minutes!

Blackberry. Rubus. If I remember correctly, this is our native, crawling blackberry plant. We also have invasive Armenian Blackberry. The bees love both!

Climbing rose. Rosa multiflora. Orgin: Asia. Planted in the US originally for soil conservation, it is now considered invasive. Although I am not happy it is climbing our trees, the bees absolutely adore it!

Clover. Trifolium sp. Naturalized, originally from Eurasia. Usually classified as a weed when it occurs in grass, bees love clover! (There’s a bumble right in the center of this image below.)

Dandelion. Taraxacum. Actually, this is a false dandelion, (Hypochaeris radicata) but we have both blooming in June! Origin: Europe. Naturalized. Commonly regarded as weeds, loved by bees.

Daphne. Daphne. Depending on species, native to Europe, Asia, or North Africa. Very fragrant!

Foxglove. Digitalis. European origin, but naturalized here very thoroughly. I’ve seen bumblebees visit foxglove, but not super often on our Farmstead.

Lavendar. Lavandula. Origin: Europe.

Red hot poker. Kniphofia. Origin: Africa. Favored by bees and humming birds.

Thimbleberry. Rubus parviflorus. Native! Delicious wild raspberries later in the season.

Queen Anne’s Lace. Also known as wild carrot. Daucus carota. Origin: Eurasia. Naturalized in the US.

Rose. Rosa. (We have a few different varities.) According to Wikipedia, “Most species are native to Asia, with smaller numbers native to Europe, North America, and northwestern Africa.” Many cultivars are not visited by pollinators a great deal compared to other great bee plants, but sometimes they are for sure.

Penstemon. Penstemon. Native to North America and Eurasia. Favored by humming birds.

Sage. Salvia officinalis. European. Kitchen herb and favorite of pollinators.

Snowbell. Styrax japonicus. Japanese origin. Loaded with pollinators and very fragrant!

Wild lilac. Ceanothus. Native! One of my favorites, and the bees too!

Yarrow. Achillea millefolium. Origin: Eurasia. The first photo is a cultivar, the second is a naturalized common yarrow with white blooms. I see flies on these more than bees — flies are pollinators too!

Yellow flag iris. Iris pseudacorus. Origin: Eurasia. Considered invasive. Pollinated by bumble bees and long-tongued flies. (I haven’t ever personally witnessed a visit by a bumble bee, but there are ants below.)

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Bee Sanctuary Garden Guest House

Now you can stay at Blossomwood Farmstead! Our guest house is up on Airbnb. It sleeps two, so it’s the perfect get-a-way.

Here is inside the guest house.

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Your view from the porch.

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The river!

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Official description:

This is a small guest house on a 42 acre farm property on Yachats River Rd. We are seven miles from the beach and town of Yachats. Our farm is called Blossomwood Farmstead. It is truly a retreat.

The guest house has one bedroom, one bathroom, and living room space with kitchenette. Enjoy relaxing on the front porch!

This farm is a bee sanctuary, which means that we use organic methods when possible and do not use pesticides. We will be continuously adding forage to support pollinators.

Click here to see the listing on Airbnb!

National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture

I was fortunate to attend this conference over the past few days. It was incredibly heartening to meet so many women who are committed to sustainability in farming. As a very beginner farmer myself, I felt inspired by those that have been working in agriculture for decades. I came away with some great information and wanted so share some highlights!

Nostrana – I was already familiar with this delicious restaurant as a customer, but it was delightful to hear Chef Cathy Whims speak at the capstone lunch about her history with the Farm to Table movement.

Leaping Lamb Farms – Seems like a great farm stay in Alsea, Or. The owner Scottie Jones is also the founder of Farm Stays US, which is an incredible resource. She also mentioned a great reservation platform for websites, called ResNexus.

North Fork – Another farm stay, this one is directed by a woman named Ginger Edwards in Nahalem, Or.

Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference – A gathering of women in the Cascadia foothills to learn about plants and medicine. Lead by Eversong Evans, a gardener and herbalist in Monroe, Washington.

Emerge – Leadership training for women who would like to hold office.

Fox and Bear – Woman owned Portland Farm.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – Our voice in Washington D.C. for the sustainable food movement. Made up of over a hundred member organizations.

Out Here – Documentary about Queer Farmers.

Zia Queen Bees – New Mexico apiary that focuses on the rearing of queens with natural longevity. Business is co-owned by Melanie Kirby.

Recommended books: Soil Sisters, The Color of Food, Broad Influence, and Sowing Seeds of Victory.

pollinator garden

We put a small pollinator garden in at Blossomwood Farmstead this weekend!

Here’s the hill before, with our chosen perennials placed where we wanted to plant them. We wanted things that would be relatively self-sufficient and not need a lot of watering once established. We planted penstemon, pincushion flower, red hot poker, yarrow, breadseed poppy, cosmos, valerian, and lavender. There was already ceanothus, a yellow red hot poker, and rose cambion.

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Getting all the grass and weeds out was the most labor intensive part. It looked like a bit of a mess during the process.

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Here it is with all the sod gone, ready to be planted, before the mulch.

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Here it is all finished!

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It looks a bit sparse now, but there is room for everything to grow and fill in. Can’t wait to see it in a couple years. We have already seen quite a number of bumble bees, humming birds, two butterfly species, and some small native bees as well. It’s amazing how fast they all find new flowers.