Wild bees: MIA

Discussion in 'Celebrate Biodiversity' started by dino, Jun 14, 2007.

  1. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  2. Davidgriffiths

    Davidgriffiths Active Member

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  3. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    A good friend of mine and three generations of his family grew and harvested blueberrys in Richmond and unlike today there was lot of surrounding trees and brush to provide a habitat for wild bees. Today throughout the Fraser Valley blueberrys are being planted on every available piece of dirt with little or no natural buffer of trees or brush left surrounding farms. This must be having an effect on crops like blueberrys.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  4. dino

    dino Active Member

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    Davidgriffiths and 1950Greg:
    Thank you for joining in. I'm pleased to see this thread still "gots legs".

    I'm guessing (help me, please) that alfalfa leafcutter (megachile rotundata) is just as potent a pollinator of West-coast blueberries as it is on low-bush blueberries on t'other coast (Google: "leafcutter + blueberry" and also specify Maine or New Brunswick or Nova Scotia).
    Greg: in the Fraser, are growers perhaps culitvating their own pollinators rather than relying on those living in the wild?

    Leafcutters are super hard workers and the science of cultivating them is well understood. These are pretty small bees. Beaver Plastics for one has-for many years- been producing plastic foam "Mega blocks" as "egg-nests" for these. One block, +/- 35cm X 65cm, if well-populated with eggs this year, will likely yield all the bush pollinators you'll need for your residential property next spring. These are low-flyers, I'm told. So other bees serve much better pollinating malus / prunus, etc. I've got to get cracking setting out a couple of wood blocks for Blue Orchard Bee (BOB).
    One final point for today. Leafcutter is very broadly distributed; if you put out Mega blocks, probably "they will come".
    BOBs, OTOH, are not native to central Alberta. I may have to buy a "starter kit" of a few dozen larvae. For this year, I'm just going to put out homemade BOB-blocks and pray !

    Cheers, all !
    dino
     
  5. Davidgriffiths

    Davidgriffiths Active Member

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    I was reading that bee-keeping was now allowed in Vancouver (it changed in 2005; previously, you had to do it quietly and bribe your neighbours if you wanted to keep bees).

    I might look into that next year... Be interesting to have a hive in the backyard....

    Anyone have any Vancouver resources on hives, equipment, etc?
     
  6. dino

    dino Active Member

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    On native pollinators and dandelions.

    Here in central Alberta, dandelions pretty much provide the earliest reliable food source for all our pollen gatherers. And by mid-May, we are attacking dandelions in our lawns with the latest promising herbicide. Apart from frequent mowing, I'm leaving my dandelions alone.
    I've come to the conclusion that in the larval stage of these wee critters lives, there's no safe amount of exposure to modern herbicides.
    Comment, please?

    Also, it seems to me that if herbicide is to be applied, sometime after mid-August would be best; the yearly life-cycle of native pollinators being largely complete.
    Comment, please?

    (But what about the pollinators of fall wildflowers- e.g.Goldenrod?)

    Dino
     
  7. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    Greg: in the Fraser, are growers perhaps culitvating their own pollinators rather than relying on those living in the wild?
    The family that I know did use honey bees supplied by a company. The secound and third generations became aware of the importance of natural pollinators through observation and also by educating themselves. I am not sure of this latest boon in the blueberry industry weather it is geuine farmers or real estate driven. At present from reading online there will not be enough bees to go around for the number of acers now planted in blueberries. Blueberries are self pollinating but bees make up for a fifty precent increase in production. I am sure that after this year some farmers will be looking at other pollinators or possibly planting more varieties to take advantage of later flowering in warmer weather.
     
  8. Margaret

    Margaret Active Member 10 Years

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  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Well, down here at least we're seeing a boom in the hummingbird populations.... Moths and butterflies seem to be on the decline but beetle season set a new record for scarabs on the wing....
     
  10. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I can't be sure here all over but we seem to have enough that you can here them hummmmm on certain trees when flowering anf I can see many down lower even in early winter (very mild at the moment)

    Liz
     
  11. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    Well here in the Frsaer Valley and most of B.C. the weather has been so cold and damp I haven't noticed many bees this year. We had quite a few stingless bees pollinating our plum tree earlier in May. Other than these we haven't seen too many other bees around the yard in great numbers.
     
  12. Cactus Jack

    Cactus Jack Active Member

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    I'm surprised commercial farmers don't keep hives in their fruit fields any more. It used to be standard practice. Even private homes would keep a hive in their vegetable plots.

    It strikes me as extraordinary that in this age when farming is such a precise and scientifically based occupation, they've gone backwards on this point and hang their operation on a hope that some bees will choose to show up one day and pollinate all their flowers.
     
  13. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    Without Prejudice
    Sorry to join the party so late.
    Dino. To start a thread that continues for over a year obviously means that you've raised a very important topic. Thanks for doing so.
    When major issues such as pollinator decline, acrylamide in drinking water (parent material for polyacrylamides)etc are discovered to be allegedly (at present) involved with products manufactured by the worlds big chemical and biotech companies, the power of the lobbyists dollar comes out to play.

    Neonicotinoids such as imidacloprid have been used extensively as broad spectrum insecticides for a little over ten years. The coincidence is that decline in Pollinators seam to occur when these chemicals are introduced to a crop or the biome. The long lasting systemic action of these chemicals allows plant pollen to become polluted with the substance, generally at non lethal quantities

    Interestingly, imidacloprid is also sold as a termiticide known as Premise. The manufacturer states on their website that exposure to non or sub lethal doses, does the job in a roundabout method.
    Premise has a double action. Premise kills termites on contact. In areas of lesser concentration of spray, termites coming in contact with Premise stop grooming and feeding and die of fungal infection from soil.



    Read the excerpt below for more information

    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/requiemForTheHoneybee.php

    A team of scientist led by the National Institute of Beekeeping in Bologna, Italy, found that pollen obtained from seeds dressed with imidacloprid contains significant levels of the insesticide, and suggested that the polluted pollen was one of the main causes of honeybee colony collapse [4]. Analysis of maize and sunflower crops originating from seeds dressed with imidacloprid indicated that large amounts of the insecticide will be carried back to honey bee colonies [5]. Sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid in sucrose solution affected homing and foraging activity of honeybees. Bees fed with 500 or 1 000 ppb (parts per billion) of the insecticide in sucrose solutions failed to return to the hive and disappeared altogether, while bees that had imbibed 100 ppb solutions were delayed for 24 h compared with controls [6]. Imidacloprid in sucrose solution fed to the bees in the laboratory impaired their communication for a few hours [7]. Sub-lethal doses of imidacloprid in laboratory and field experiment decreased flight activity and olfactory discrimination, and olfactory learning performance was impaired [8].


    More to come later
     
  14. jg156

    jg156 Member

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    im not sure if its legal in your area but you could get a bee hive.
     
  15. dino

    dino Active Member

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    Fine post, Puddleton. Glad you've joined the party; and thank you for the compliment.

    Great essay you cited: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/requiemForTheHoneybee.php

    If our Lord had made His design a tad simpler, I shouldn't object. Such as the following excerpt makes my head hurt.

    " The nicotinic acetylcholine receptor gene family of the honeybee has been studied; it has 11 subunit members, a larger number than the fruit fly or mosquito. The genes for the subunits employ alternatively spliced transcripts to increase receptor diversity, and the messenger RNAs are edited to replace specific A bases with I bases."

    I think it may still be true (or has Sarkozy changed this also?) that France is the least trustful/accepting/permissive of Bayer and imidicloprid of all first-world nations. I've been looking for (but haven't found yet) a helpful essay on France's position.
    Anyone?

    For those who feel the need of a deeper understanding of solitary bees, here's a fine (300-page) book, thanks to the Federal University of Ceara, Brazil:

    > > http://www.webbee.org.br/bpi/solitary/livro_04.pdf


    Cheers, all. And happy reading.
    I now return to trying to understand the plight of Fannie May & Freddie Mac; another fascination.

    dino
     
  16. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    You're right about France Dino.
    The product is called Gaucho in Europe and Confidor down our way. Contact the following organisation for assistance and info.
    www.pan-uk.org

    Fanny May and Freddy Mac.
    Excuse my initial ignorance but when I first heard of the companies a week or so ago, I thought they were junk food franchises.

    Once again, we stand back and watch governments belch hot air about the necessity to crack down on low income welfare cheats and screw the genuine recipients for income support. On the grounds they cost the nation a fortune. The very next day, they offer billions of tax payers dollars to support a private company.

    Sorry to throw the topic a little but who are the real welfare cheats?
     
  17. dino

    dino Active Member

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    JG:

    Thank you very much for this: <www.pan-uk.org> I'll check it out shortly.

    I tend to share my political views liberally; this once I'll "stifle myself ;-) ". Our webmaster here was very kind to spin off this thread and keep it up. I just don't want to create challenges for him. I have my fun exchanging political horsepuckey on ViveLeCanada.
    In any case, C.Chaplin pretty much covered everything I might feel like saying (a year before I was born) in "Modern Times".

    No offense, I hope.

    Thanks again for replying, JG.

    Anything to share on your native pollinators? From what I gather, native pollinators won't travel very far from water to gather pollen. How does your drought figure into that?

    dino
     
  18. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Dino,
    Message received and understood.
    Australian Flora exploits the whole spectrum of mobile organisms for pollination
    Birds (up to 15% in sou west aus) mammals and insects of course.
    When drought occurs, plants reduce flowering and growth.
    The link below will put you in touch with research scientists who are better qualified to answer.
    http://www.csiro.au/science/ps2gi.html
     
  19. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Well, the more I hear about Australia, the more its pollinations schemes seem similar to Ecuador. Plants here use everything that moves to pollinate, from insects right through hummingbirds, much larger birds, bats, and mammals as large as Tapir. Some are, in fact, specialised to one certain species (like pineapples, for example, an a coastal hummingbird, or Philodendrons and their little scarab beetles.)
     
  20. dino

    dino Active Member

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    Friends:

    Here is a couple of new things I'd like to share.

    1. http://www.pollinatorparadise.com/solitary_bees/SOLITARY.HTM An interesting and informative introduction to native pollinators.

    2. Dr. Suzanne Batra. Lifelong student of pollinators. Her research seems to have focused on finding the most efficient pollinator in the world for each of a great many North American food plants. She seems to have spent some four decades on that.
    Her writing is not so easy to find on the web; some interesting interviews and references are, though.

    A reference to her early (1966) scholarship: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusociality
    This whole article is fascinating also in the way eusociality is "explained" in a way it doesn't upset Darwin's applecart.

    Another reference to Dr. Batra is here: http://lamb-abbey.livejournal.com/1571.html

    dino
     
  21. C8luvs2gardn

    C8luvs2gardn Active Member

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    Thank you Dino for starting such an important thread. I've just found it and have read about half of posts, skimmed others and made a note to go through more completely. I've also read the other thread on this board re bees. I am just a front-and-backyard gardener, with a keen interest in giving a helping hand to our wild bees.

    I'm not sure re copyright issues as I've seen on other posts, so I hope this one is ok. There's a great cable show, sometimes hard to find called "secret worlds of gardens" narrated & I think written by Martin Galloway (used to be on HGTV, currently on Animal Planet if you have it). In the second season he devoted an entire episode to solitary bees, which pretty much confirmed to me the importance of the role they perform in the garden.

    It was mentioned in the show that they will nest in the tops of bamboo stakes, so I have those and make sure that the tops of the bamboo all have little holes. My question is how to encourage them to nest in my garden.

    There are some small holes in the metal framework of my patio chairs and the other day we noticed some hornets actually going inside, so we just used plain water and dish soap and sprayed inside and since then the hornets seem to be gone. I would however allow solitary bees to nest in there, and also in the ends of some old curtain rods I'm using as stakes. For these very small bees, is there any rule-of-thumb, or guideline for how big (or small) the holes should be to allow these bees to nest, but too small for other insects? I don't mind having hornets and wasps but not in my patio chairs.

    Also, one more question. I had heard somewhere that bees will only forage on one crop at a time, i.e. if they go for clover then that's all they collect until the next trip. Is that true, or only true for some types of bees? Yesterday we watched a bumblebee (and there have been very few of those these past couple of years) she went from my Malva Moschata to Liatris to scarlet runner beans. Just curious on that one

    Thanks,
    Cate
     
  22. dino

    dino Active Member

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    Hi, Cate:
    Welcome onboard. What a great post!

    "narrated & I think written by Martin Galloway ... HGTV, ... entire episode to solitary bees" looks like this:
    http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_swg/episode/0,,HGTV_3890_10015,00.html
    Thanks for the tip, Cate; I'll try to run it down.

    "they will nest in the tops of bamboo stakes" I haven't read about that. On the "pollinatorparadise" page I cited (I think it was there) is mention of bamboo sections (15 to 20 cm. long) bundled with "section-closures" at the back & with front-ends open. I rather rushed past that description; I'd expect the internal diameter would be 7 to 10mm. Here's a starting-point:
    <www.pollinatorparadise.com/solitary_bees/Hornface.htm>

    I ought to repeat now that I'm just a garden putterer; please take everything I say with a large grain of salt.

    "I would however allow solitary bees to nest in there, and also in the ends of some old curtain rods I'm using as stakes." The mother-instinct, alive-and-well! :-D

    "how big (or small) the holes should be" (?) To (over)simplify : alfalfa leafcutter is (I think) one of the most studied/cultivated and broadly distributed solitaries in Canada. And the one you and I might aim first to attract to "nest" in our gardens. Here's a primer from Beaver Plastics: http://www.beaverplastics.com/beavercurrent/apiculture.html
    The second bee in my sights is Blue Orchard Bee (BOBs). They're orchard fruit specialists, not native (but possibly viable) to our zone 3a. My experiment has failed to attract any from the wild. With a 10mm. wood bit I drilled some 80 holes 15cm. deep into a spruce block about 35cm.dia x 35cm long. I set that about a metre above ground, northeast-facing with a corrugated plastic (political lawn sign!) roof. The holes were rough-walled; I intended to line them with large drinking straws, didn't get around to it. Next year I'll try again; but will buy a starter-colony.

    "(?) bees will only forage on one crop at a time," That's one for orchardists. Apple growers, I've read, encourage dandelions in their orchards. Earliest-blooming dandelions provide good nutrition and put such as BOBs into top shape very early when weather is still unsteady. Soon as fruit bloom starts, they mow the dandelions, forcing the bees onto fruit blooms. I think that demonstrates that He has designed even the simplest critters to go for the "biggest-bang-for-the-buck".
    Bumblebees (I seem to notice) are the champions of unfocused browsing. OTOH, find a lush field of fresh-bloomed clover, and they're all business.

    Perhaps, in a sunny spot, try purple Veronica. You may find (as I have): they seem to out-draw everything else. Except today, Gai Lon's white flowers are the hit.

    Happy gardening, Cate.

    dino
     
  23. C8luvs2gardn

    C8luvs2gardn Active Member

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    Thanks Dino,

    The past couple days we have been enjoying our patio and observing some of our little friends. We have seen both solitary bees and bumblebees visiting my little herb garden beside the patio. Both seem to visit the little viola tricolours, the parsley, oregano and winter savory. Then they move on to musk mallow and the pea and bean patches. They seem particularly drawn to the herbs and visit them several times daily. I am planning to move (part of) the savory and the oregano & put them one on each end of a raised bed where they will get more sun and (hopefully) attract more pollinators.

    thanks for the info on hornfaced and beaver plastics. I'll see what I can do - The far corner of my lot is at the north east so I might be able to make a bee shelter in or behind the trellis.
     
  24. dino

    dino Active Member

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    Cate:

    Good luck ! Love those yarbs! Oregano is a bit too Mediterranean for my garden. Terragon, thyme, mint, basil, chives, dill, parsley are all doing well.

    Friends:

    I apologize if this important page has already been cited.

    THE XERCES SOCIETY FOR INVERTEBRATE CONSERVATION

    http://www.xerces.org/
    --------

    Now I'm looking for (possible) harm to pollinators from formulations of 2,4-D/Dicamba/Mecoprop herbicide. Killex is our most popular brand locally. Evidence of direct harm to early larval development is what I'm searching (rather than habitat-degradation).

    Any leads, please?

    Local gardeners' fruit production looks to have taken a double-whammy this year: flowering was very poor (a sneaky May frost, I think), plus all insect populations (both good and not-so-good) seem to be lower even than last year. My red currants are flourishing, almost completely free of currant-aphids (and :'( ... fruit).

    dino
     
  25. C8luvs2gardn

    C8luvs2gardn Active Member

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    Thanks Dino,

    I am in the process of redoing a raised bed which, when finished will help to bring in the pollinators. I am also putting a variety of small native plants including white yarrow, a couple of little woodland 'volunteers' which popped up in my garden, woodland violets, johnny-jump-ups, etc. which I am hoping will also entice these guys into the yard.

    When done I will post a 'before' and 'after' pics to "show-off" all my hard work.

    On a very sad note, we had a fatality in the garden yesterday. We found a bumblebee on the liatris, dead. It looked like she just died in mid-forage, in fact from the pics it is hard to tell that she is dead, except that her wings are folded. Will post that pic tonite.
    Cate
     

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