Bees on your trees?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Eric La Fountaine, Apr 28, 2020.

  1. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I have been taking walks in my neighborhood lately (central Vancouver nearish to QE Park) and there are a lot of trees and other flowers blooming right now. But in the past week as I have been looking at the trees I have not seen a bee. This seems odd to me. It is cool, but has been sunny. Are you all seeing normal amounts of bees this year?
     
  2. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    In northwest Burnaby, I have 9 fruit trees blooming heavily and have not seen a single honey bee on them. I did see one back in early March when only heathers were blooming. I released about 200 mason bees this year, but that seems insufficient for the amount of blossoms to be pollinated.
     
  3. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Here too. No buzzing and humming of the bees, no chirping of the birds. Only a bumblebee sometimes and a few of other insects. And one lonely robin. A silent spring.
     
  4. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    There were lots of bees on a Ceanothus ('Victoria'?) that I photographed yesterday, most of them camera-shy. I think there is one dead-centre in this photo.
    CeanothusVictoria_BeachAve_Cutler_20200601_141641.jpg
     
  5. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    This is an interesting and worrying thread. Here in England we are seeing less and less bees every year.
    In past years I have spoken to many bee keepers who have seen hives wiped out, even though they were next to farmers fields full of rape seed.
    IMO this trend is set to continue.
    @wcutler, I'm pleased you have lots of bees on the Ceanothus, it's a shrub we all need to plant if possible.
    I will follow this thread by @Eric La Fountaine with interest.
     
  6. Heathen

    Heathen Active Member

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    I've seen plenty of carpenter bees around Shawnigan (they are fond of reproducing in my front porch framing), not many others. In Victoria I've mostly been noticing bumblebees and the odd honeybee, not hordes by any means. The ceanothus I was mowing next to today was not busy at all, though maybe that had something to do with the weather.
    Perhaps there is some format by which we could do a sort of bee survey?
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Lots of honey bees here on 'California Glory' flannel bush.
     
  8. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Eric - you know the area Coast it seems - I am familiar w a wild garden on a old cottage lot nr the boat (cougars and bears and raccoons - squirrels and rats ... and lots of wild small perching birds - very loud songs start approx 430am pdt
    (Robin / swainsons thrush / towhee / fox sparrow / some small yellow ones / afternoon warmth brings out the « veep veep veep song of nuthatch - I think red breast - not white)

    So I am surprised by more bees than last yr

    Are they the desired bees?

    I gave this cottage a mason bee house but I don’t know if occupied

    Recently - the thimble berry is alive buzzing. Rubus parviflorus - Wikipedia

    And a really old kolkwitzia (pink pale small blossoms right now) also buzz like high voltage power line!Kolkwitzia amabilis 'Pink Cloud' - Plant Finder


    And this purple flower that is for many people a weed but owner leaves it in garden for naturescape interest (it is easy manage weed — ie NOT morning glory or knotweed)

    The bees are also enjoying the forever perennial geraniums (Mourning Widow comes out first —- I see pix of maybe an old Phoebe Noble (bless her!) —- some Espresso (dark leaves))

    Lots of the wintering hummingbirds (Anna’s?) - there are some yr round feeders

    Photo is the weed plant I forget w a fuzzy focus bee (I would call it a bumble bee vs honey bee)

    Other photo is jungle of thimble berry and kolkwitzia pink shrub.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
  9. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    Hi Georgia, both Bumble and Honey bees are needed, but the Bumble is a better polinator. (More hair= more transfer). There are just so few where I live these days. I'm glad your are seeing plenty.

    D
     
  10. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    On the Sunshine Coast now our apple tree does have a few fruit on it. I noticed plenty of fruit on the apple trees in our Vancouver neighborhood. I think the weather on the Sunshine Coast was just particularly bad during the flowering time here. Things bloomed slightly later in Vancouver and temps were warmer, so things got pollinated there. The apple tree here also has powdery now. It's not doing well. There are more birds here than I ever recall. Lots of robins, lots of hummers. We are also seeing bears--a young one came right up onto the deck yesterday. And I am seeing so many snakes on the sunny hillside. I can't imagine there is enough food for them.
     
  11. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    That would have been a treat to see, except for thinking that mom might not have been too far away.
     
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  12. Anna Kadlec

    Anna Kadlec Active Member 10 Years

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    I don't know if the question was just for the time or a standing question but my yard is buzzing with bees (honey bees and bumblebees) right now. They really like the Ceanothus, now that it's in full bloom, as well as the Enkianthus. The buzzing in that corner of my yard is unreal. Later, when the lavenders are blooming, I expect that they will be covered in bees as well. The rhododendrons and azaleas have been buzzing quite a bit too.
     
  13. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    Spouse (who is not usually observing nature) just commented on how many bees there are on the plain old pink geranium plants that are a weed at cottage

    Kind of what I’d call a Phoebe Noble geranium
     
  14. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    Now I know what happened here. They all moved to Vancouver.
     
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  15. Yo_Jo

    Yo_Jo Active Member

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    I can confirm that the bees have moved back into East Vancouver. A neighbour few blocks down has a hive or two right near the main road and I have been seeing lots of regular bees and bumblebees foraging for a meal on my deck plants. They seem to love the purple lavender and will happily stay on the flower while my wife takes a close up picture with her iPhone.
    1E6B45C8-5C9E-447E-9784-DCF95C71218C.jpeg FB971A7F-2CB6-4A3C-9165-E62C19A48EDE.jpeg 0DD30185-FA70-4AA5-BD0E-F1393C2A4D75.jpeg
     

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  16. wcutler

    wcutler Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout 10 Years

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    So funny, I stopped to talk to a guy doing the gardening at his building at the edge of Stanley Park, who mentioned that the bees were very prolific this year - I told him I was going to quote him. They particularly hang out on his potato vine and the California lilac. I managed to get one in a photo, but there were lots of bees. And then I went over to Stanley Park to photograph the foxtail lilies, and there were lots lots of bees.
    CeanothusVictoria_BeachAve_Cutler_20200608_143235.jpg Eremurus_StanleyPark-underBridgeToRoseGarden_Cutler_20200608_152148.jpg
     
  17. vitog

    vitog Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Interesting, the bees in the last two sets of photos are all bumblebees. I also have plenty of bumblebees, mostly visiting the raspberry blossoms. I still see very few honey bees, probably because there are no hives nearby.
     
  18. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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  19. Acerholic

    Acerholic Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society

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    But at least some did !!!! What a fragile eco system we all now find ourselves in. Can so very quickly fail and a lot quicker than we imagine.
    Would they have been brought them in if not for how much money would have been lost?? I wonder!!!!!!
    Interesting but rather frightening article Georgia.
     
  20. Yo_Jo

    Yo_Jo Active Member

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    I reread the article again and with the recent smoke situation I was wondering if the bees survived the Oregon and Northern California wild fires? Let’s hope nothing happens to the Hawaiian bees.

    ....“We get a majority of these queens from a quarantined area in Northern California and from Hawaii,” Scarlett said — a problem when the pandemic hit.
     
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  21. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    You’ve posed a great question.

    I am a citizen science person ... no qualifications, so I wonder too.

    I agree - I realize and have empathy for the human loss (incl lives) ... and the photos on news are a scary sight ... I would also be interested in how the smoke has challenged normal autumn season migration of land and air animals.

    A friends says they have wild smoke high up above their farm in south Sask.

    One thing I do know - having survived at very close range the massive 2003 Okanagan Mtn fire - nature does adapt and come back sooner than humans would think.

    Tho even 20 years ago maybe there were fewer challenges facing natural species in the Pac NW and wherever they migrate to

    and of course some of those migrants come back to help the non-migratory like plant pollination for Okanagan fruit we and the local animals eat.

    Referring back to the Ok Mtn fire 2003 ... as a human - faced with that scenario and smoke and ash and fear - one feels suddenly very small on this planet. I tried to take that as a lesson and I forget it and nature nudges me sometimes!
     
  22. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Contributor

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    You wondered about bees

    Here is something about the tiny fish awaiting the Pacific Ocean etc.
    Mass fish deaths, early releases at Oregon hatcheries as fires raged
     
  23. scilover

    scilover Member

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    These bees usually become active in the spring with the warm weather and flowering of plants. ... They remain active throughout the summer and into the fall. Cooling temperatures in the fall prompt them to prepare to overwinter. Hows the weather?
     
  24. WesternWilson

    WesternWilson Active Member 10 Years

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    Beekeeper here! Most bees only fly when it is warm enough for them to do so safely: they are cold blooded so if they chill down, they lose muscle function, cannot fly and expire.

    Honey bees don't fly on cold and/or rainy days, they reduce flights in overcast days, and prefer to fly in temps above 12C...preferring a range more in the 15-24C range. Most native pollinators would exhibit similar preferences.

    Bees also have discriminating tastes: they don't feed on every flower and will give more attention to species that are more nutritious for them. Some have an ability to exploit some floral structures more readily than others, ie. bumblebees have long tongues and can manage to feed easily on deep floral bells....unlike honey bees. Most bees prefer single blossoms, which offer unimpeded access to nectaries, to double forms.

    The other factor is distance. Most bees have very short flight ranges. If an area is thin on forage, they can't fly to feed efficiently and die out. Honey bees can fly relatively long distances but when given a choice will stick very close to home. I moved hives from my back yard to about a kilometre away and none flew back to feed in the garden. So bees of all kinds have to be pretty close by to visit your floral offerings.

    If you want to attract lots of pollinators, a quick list of winning offerings is:
    fruit trees
    red alder
    big leaf maple
    lime tree (Tilia)
    bee bee tree
    heathers
    clovers of all kinds including the pretty Sweet Clover (Melilotus)
    squill
    lovage
    catmint (not catNIP, catMINT...a great mixer in the perennial border with fragrant leaves for tea and potpourris)
    Ceanothus
    lavenders
    fireweed (Epilobium...really pretty at the back of borders)
    flowering herbs
    fennel
    Joe Pye Weed
    sedums
    Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus)
    Bluebeard (Caryopteris)
    Japanese Knotweed, which makes gorgeous honey but is an invasive, alas.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
  25. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Most local infestations consist of Bohemian knotweed, which is repeatedly miscalled Japanese knotweed.
     

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