Saturday, July 10, 2010

Best websites and books about pollinators and native bees

Here are the best websites and books about pollinators and native bees in Michigan:

Web sites

Michigan State University

Attracting Beneficial Insects With Native Flowering Plants. E-2973

Conserving Native Bees on Farmland. E-2985

Xerces Society

Pollinator-Friendly Parks. How to Enhance Parks, Gardens, and other Greenspaces for Native Pollinator Insects

Pollinators in Natural Areas: A Primer on Habitat Management

Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms


Pollinator Conservation Handbook, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation,

Befriending Bumble Bees, A Practical Guide to Raising Local Bumble Bees, Elaine Evans et al., University of Minnesota Extension,

The Natural History of Bumblebees: A Sourcebook for Investigations, Carol A. Kearns and James D. Thomson, University Press of Colorado, 2001

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Early bees

Most ground-nesting bees are called 'solitary' because they don't make hives or have the roles typical of social bees.

However, large numbers may nest in a relatively small area. In part, this is because desirable nest sites (with bare ground and fairly sandy soil) are often localized. The other reason is it serves reproduction.

When males emerge, they buzz around the area looking for females, usually just a few inches above the ground. When a male detects a female, he will follow into a tunnel.

The nest holes are visible in the sandy soil. They are about the diameter of a pencil. Some have small piles of excavated soil but others do not.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bee Aware - Blogs and brochures focus on native bees

The increasing interest in pollinators is leading to many new resources that share information about native bees and native plants. Here are some of my favorites: (Dave Barr, Hamilton, Ontario)

Nelson DeBarros at Penn State created an interesting brochure "Conserving Wild Bees in Pennsylvania"

Rachel Winfree's lab at Rutgers has one for New Jersey "Native Bee Benefits"

And finally, for global interest, here is a blog about insects and plants in India (Arati in Bangalore)


Sunday, February 14, 2010

2010 events at Mary Beth Doyle Park

Natural Area Preservation has scheduled several events at Mary Beth Doyle Park in 2010.

Late April & early May - walk the path along Mallets Creek and enjoy the woodland wildflowers. Trout lily, trillium, may apple and other species will be blooming in profusion.

Saturday, June 5, 2010, noon - Celebrate World Environment Day by repairing trails and other stewardship activities.

Thursday, June 17, 2010, 7:00 PM - Join us for a nature hike.

Saturday, October 23, 2010, 10:00 AM - We'll continue our annual tradition of collecting seeds of native grasses at Swift Run, and then distributing them in old field areas at Doyle.

Saturday, November 13, 2010, 9:00 AM - we'll work on trails and other activities to improve the park.

All events are free and open to the public. Wear sturdy shoes and clothes appropriate for outdoor work. Please leave pets at home.

Ride the AATA #7 bus to the Packard entrance, or the #5 to the Platt Rd./Birch Hollow entrance.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Rain garden is awash with flowers

The rain garden near the Packard entrance of Mary Beth Doyle Park is thriving. I counted seven species in bloom this morning:
  1. spiderwort
  2. bee balm
  3. mountain mint
  4. boneset
  5. evening primrose
  6. sneezeweed
  7. thimbleweed
The spiderwort and bee balm are nearly past, while boneset and thimbleweed are in early stages of their annual bloom.

A long season of bloom is desirable both for aesthetics and to support wildlife. Here's a bee on the boneset flowers.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Volunteers Build Better Trails

A group of volunteers from Thomson-Reuters did an outstanding job re-routing the trail to Swift Run Park on April 24, 2009.

We'll have more details, and (hopefully) some photos soon.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Michigan researchers find 166 bee species on 15 blueberry farms‏

A study published in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America (March 2009) shows that wild bees are effective pollinators of food crops. (Farmers in Michigan raised more than 100 million pounds of blueberries in 2007. Each berry was pollinated by a bee.)

The article is available at

In the article "Wild Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) of the Michigan Highbush Blueberry Agroecosystem," authors Julianna K. Tuell (Michigan State University), John S. Ascher (American Museum of Natural History), and Rufus Isaacs (Michigan State University) report the results of a three-year study which took place on 15 southwestern Michigan blueberry farms. Using traps and direct observation, the authors identified 166 bee species, 112 of which were active during the blueberry blooming period. Many of these species visit more flowers per minute and deposit more pollen per visit than honey bees (Apis mellifera L.), and most of them are potential blueberry pollinators.

"This should help growers know what kinds of bees are in the fields so that they can make informed decisions about whether they should modify crop management practices in order to help conserve natural populations of bees," said Dr. Julianna Tuell.

Unlike honey bees, which live together in hives, most of the bees found by the authors were solitary bees that nest in the soil or in wood cavities. While soil-nesting bees may be difficult to manage, the authors see potential for cavity-nesting bees, such as several species of mason bees, to be managed by growers who can support their populations by providing nesting materials.

"Untreated bamboo or reeds are good materials because they provide natural variation in hole diameter to attract the broadest range of species," said Dr. Tuell. "There are also a number of commercially manufactured options that growers can use, such as foam blocks with pre-drilled holes and cardboard tubes made to a particular diameter to suit a particular species of interest. Drilling different sized holes in wood is another option. If a grower is interested in trying to build up populations of a particular species, there are also details about how to do so available online."

Besides blueberries, many of the species in this study also visit cherries, apples, and cranberries, and managed mason bees are already being used to pollinate cherry orchards.