wild bee sex

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ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture
wild bee sex

Just a shout out for slowing down and paying attention.  I almost missed the fact that the hills are alive with the sound of wild bee sex...and even when I was sitting there with my camera pointing at it, people who were walking be asked me if I was documenting soil erosion.

Issues Pages: 
Brian White

They were doing it on the clothes on my clothesline yesterday. They weren't going at it like your ones though.  Much more relaxed.

(Orchard masons).Most people think they are flys and squish them.

I am making cob beeblocks this year if you are interested.   (People drill holes in wood for the bees and I thought I would try the same thing with cob).

When it is soft, you do not need to drill at all.

I do know that there are several varietys out there, some needing different size holes  and  housing is always in demand.

Brian

 

Fotheringay-Phipps

Hi, Brian, fascinated to see that you use cob for bee blocks. Have you ever constructed anything from cob? I had dreams of building a wall or maybe a garden shed from cob at one point, but then disability and a move from heavy clay to a sand plain intervened. But I like to see others reviving these old techniques.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I'm wondering why it's been a few years since I've seen any butterflies here. All we have are the occasional white moths. Not many bees, either.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Brian, I'd love to see you're design and hear about how it works out.  It's great you're trying to do it all natural.  Some of the plastic designs I've seen that are sold commercially are made so the top and bottom seperate.  I've been told this allows it to be cleaned between seasons and reduces the spread of parasites/disease.  You can probably do something just as effective with cob.

That's interesting Boom Boom, what's growing around the north shore?  I wouldn't expect much large scale agriculture, how about wild flowers?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

This is bog country, so you have natural bog flowers growing wild, some native to NFLD and Labrador. Lots of daisys and dandelions. I guess the reason there isn't more butterflies is that there isn't much in the way of flowers.

Brian White

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5747372&l=14d821f677&id=736625766 is the first one.   (Experimental stuff takes ages because you make lots of mistakes).

I did concider making it to separate easily but then I concidered that the lines on which it separates might double as migration lines for pathogens and mites!   First things first! Lets see if the bees like it.

In relation to there beeing few butterflys (and bees) , I have a couple of theorys.  One is Bacillus thuringiensis  sprays that you can get at your local garden store to get rid of cabbage white.  Well, bt is a bacterial infection that kills off the grub of the cabbage white butterfly and other grubs too.

(It is like the insect version of antrax)

  And bacterial infections are not like normal insecticide. One bee lands on a flower near your cabbage or drops down on a hot dry day to lick up some moisture and she introduces the infection to her hive up to 5 miles away!  Same with the mason bees and other insects.  The bacillus does not care what type of grub it is killing. It can be a bee grub for all it cares.   And Bacillus is tough and lingers on in the environment too. Bacillus forms spores and thats why you have to autoclave at whatever 15 psi? for about 20 minutes when you are doing microbiology.

Actually I looked up b t on wikipedia and it is pretty clear that monsanto scribes have been busy there.

Brian

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I see very few bumble bees in the city these days - and I don't think I've ever seen wild honey bees. They used to be around when I was growing up in Oakville, just down the highway.

I do see the little green bees regularly though - they really like the sumac that I brought back from up north. Tons of wasps and hornets around. Too many, really.

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Synopsis

Quote:
Bee Movie is a comedy that will change everything you think you know about bees. Having just graduated from college, a bee by the name of Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) finds himself disillusioned with the prospect of having only one career choice – honey. As he ventures outside of the hive for the first time, he breaks one of the cardinal rules of the bee world and talks to a human, a New York City florist named Vanessa (Renée Zellweger). He is shocked to discover that the humans have been stealing and eating the bees’ honey for centuries, and ultimately realizes that his true calling in life is to set the world right by suing the human race for stealing their precious honey.

 

Quote:
A Biologist Remembers (1967)1 Karl Ritter von Frisc wrote about his life’s work:

The layman may wonder why a biologist is content to devote 50 years of his life to the study of bees and minnows without ever branching out into research on, say, elephants, or at any rate the lice of elephants or the fleas of moles. The answer to any such question must be that every single species of the animal kingdom challenges us with all, or nearly all, the mysteries of life.Frisch, Karl von. 1967. A biologist remembers. Pergamon Press.

I thought since you had a topic about bees, it might be interesting to see some thoughts I had around them as well,  as some research material.

See:

Higgs Field as a Pheromone?

 

 

Honeycomb geometry

Quote:
There are two possible explanations for the reason that honeycomb is composed of hexagons, rather than any other shape. One, given by Jan Brożek, is that the hexagon tiles the plane with minimal surface area. Thus a hexagonal structure uses the least material to create a lattice of cells within a given volume. Another, given by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson, is that the shape simply results from the process of individual bees putting cells together: somewhat analogous to the boundary shapes created in a field of soap bubbles. In support of this he notes that queen cells, which are constructed singly, are irregular and lumpy with no apparent attempt at efficiency

 

Marc D. Hauser:

Quote:
We know that that kind of information is encoded in the signal because people in Denmark have created a robotic honey bee that you can plop in the middle of a colony, programmed to dance in a certain way, and the hive members will actually follow the information precisely to that location. Researchers have been able to understand the information processing system to this level, and consequently, can actually transmit it through the robot to other members of the hive.

 

Quote:
Worker bees perform a host of tasks from cleaning the hive cells to looking after the larvae The workers have a variety of tasks to perform – some collect nectar from flowers, others pollen, some are engaged in constructing new combs, or looking after the developing larvae, some perform the duty of cleaning the cells or feeding the larvae on special secretion that they regurgitate from their mouth parts. In these insects the exact task of any individual depends largely on its age, although there is a certain flexibility, depending on the requirements of the hive.

 

 

 

 

Bumblebee Economics with a new preface Bernd Heinrich-

Quote:
In his new preface Bernd Heinrich ranges from Maine to Alaska and north to the Arctic as he summarizes findings from continuing investigations over the past twenty-five years--by him and others--into the wondrous "energy economy" of bumblebees.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Brian White wrote:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=5747372&l=14d821f677&id=736625766 is the first one.   (Experimental stuff takes ages because you make lots of mistakes).

I looked at your images.  The idea is to make it as much like their natural home as possible while providing  a sturdy structure? I think it's great.  As I watched dogs and teenagers walk on top of the bee nests I was wondering how often bees have to dig themselves out of their home.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Bumblebee Economics with a new preface Bernd Heinrich looks interesting. I'll see if I can order it.

Michelle

Every time I see this thread title, I think of Jon Lovitz's "gay bee" skit on SNL way back when.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Everytime I look at it I think What's up with the thrust/antannae twitch pattern?  Is the receiver giving off pheremones to the effect of "oooh, harder, deeper ba-BEE" or what is it that makes him twitch like that?

Spectrum Spectrum's picture

[url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasonov]Fanning honeybee exposes Nasonov gland[/url] (white-at tip of abdomen) releasing pheromone to entice swarm into an empty hive.

Matriarchal societies knew well to apply the perfume to over rule the basier emotions of men?

Synthetically produced Nasonov consists of citral and geraniol in a 2:1 ratio...need a better name for the fragrance though.

:)

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

I see that lots.  There is often a bee fanning at the entrance of a hive to let others know they've come to the right place. 

These are not honey bees in the above video and there isn't any sign of fanning.  These wild bee's are fairly independent, each living in their own private hole in the ground, I'm not sure they could classify as a matriarchal society.....

As for the matriarchal Honey bees it'd be a bit of an anthropomorphic stretch to say anyone is ruling in the hive.  There are rather aggressive(anthropomorphically speaking) female bees who's job it is to go around shaking other bees to get them jazzed and pumped to go smell the roses, collect flower dust and the other dandy things bees do.  Which would suggest matriarchal societies know how to apply brute force to make their vision happen as well.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Recently on Daily Planet there was a segment on bees.

They said that pesticides are killing them off and the majority of our crops are pollinated by bees - IF THEY DIE, WE DIE...

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

"oopsie" - is what the people said after they realized they had just walked over the bee burrows.

To say pesticides are killing them off may be true but is only part of the picture.  You have to look at modern agricultural practices as a whole as bringing too many stress factors for bees. Long distance transportation of bees around the US for pollination services, pesticides as well as GMO, Large fields of monocrops, yearly queen replacment.

I believe it's not quite the majority of our food, but yeah even having 1/3 less in the food supply would be devestating.  It's interesting to keep in mind that Honey bees were brought here by Europeans, people lived in North America a long time eating food pollinated by other things. Modern agricultural practices are not making lives easy for the native pollinators either.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Very few bees here of any kind, and no butterflies at all - sometimes we see the occasional hummingbird in the flowers, but that's about it, aisde from white moths.   I wish we could import a ton of bees and butterflies to this coast and see how they fare, if at all.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

What kind of flowers do you have?  Any coming up yet?

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I have bulbs starting to emerge through the soil, can't tell which ones yet. Maybe in another week, but we're going to have cold weather and possibly snow in the next few days, so I'm a bit apprehensive as to whether they will survive. I haven't seen any wildflowers in the bush yet - but it's still April, don't usually see any until June.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I've already had a couple of white-tailed bumblebees appear... not much up in my yard except Siberian Squill right now. Very seldom see honey bees, but several varities of bumblebees are usually bumping around my yard. There is a species I haven't been able to identify that seems to heartily approve of my annual planting of sunflowers... strangely enough they frequently rest on the flowers overnight rather than returning to hive or burrow.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I think I'll put a box over the flowers that are sprouting to try to protect them from the cold and snow that is coming - maybe not necessary?

 

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Depends what they are Boom Boom, here in Calgary (where there is a debate as to whether we are zone 3 or zone 2) the only thing blooming are the very early bulbs... and they often push themselves up through snow in the first place... they dont need any extra protection - squill, bulb form of iris, crocus and chionodoxia all seem to do okay even when it is minus single digits overnight - and the tulip leaves that are up are very frost resistant... only thing I would worry about is if the snow was heavy enough to crush things... otherwise it is just badly needed moisture. If I recall correctly, you are on the lower north shore.... the zone seems similar to where I am, but a good deal more moisture. A lot depends on how much natural shelter your plants have... whether or not they are exposed to the wind in particular.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

ebodyknows wrote:

"oopsie" - is what the people said after they realized they had just walked over the bee burrows.

To say pesticides are killing them off may be true but is only part of the picture.  You have to look at modern agricultural practices as a whole as bringing too many stress factors for bees. Long distance transportation of bees around the US for pollination services, pesticides as well as GMO, Large fields of monocrops, yearly queen replacment.

I believe it's not quite the majority of our food, but yeah even having 1/3 less in the food supply would be devestating.  It's interesting to keep in mind that Honey bees were brought here by Europeans, people lived in North America a long time eating food pollinated by other things. Modern agricultural practices are not making lives easy for the native pollinators either.

 

I didn't know that honey bees were introduced into the Americas.  If that's true, it is very reassuring - knowing that food crops of this continent have other means of pollinating themselves.

Of course, decline of bee populations in other parts of the world should concern all conscientious beings regardless of whether it effects them.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

bagkitty wrote:

Depends what they are Boom Boom, here in Calgary (where there is a debate as to whether we are zone 3 or zone 2)

 

Wow - I always believed Calgary to be in a higher zone because I thought it was much warmer in the summer than here on the Lower North Shore which is zoned 3a, but according to the Plant Hardiness Zones of Canada Calgary is zoned 3b (I decided not to hotlink that zone map because it's a huge file).

 

When I retired on disability in 2002, I chose to remain on the Lower North Shore of Quebec where I have lived since 1995 partly because I have no allergies here, also because I love the people, but mostly because the summer temps rarely (if ever) exceed 80F. I have a very low tolerance for high temperatures; passing through Ottawa and Montreal iin 1994 during a heat wave (Montreal reached 102F!!!) I almost died. Same thing happened to me in Toronto in 1998, but in Toronto it was the humidity that almost did me in. I don't know how folks in the Montreal - Ottawa - Toronto corridor put up with these insane summer temperatures; when I was growing up in Ottawa in the 50s and 60s, I don't recall ever experiencing anything over 85F.  Oh, and by the way, NO ONE on the Lower North Shore has a/c - we don't need it! In fact, many evenings throughout the summer I've had to put my electric heaters on for an hour or so because it gets quite cool.

 

ETA: Here's a comparsion of a random date in  August 2009  weather for our two areas (our nearest weather station is in Natashquan, 40 km from Kegaska):

 

Kegaska:

Minimum Temperature

9.4 °C

 

Mean Temperature

14.8 °C

 

Maximum Temperature

21.4 °C

 

 Calgary:

Minimum Temperature

5.7 °C

 

Mean Temperature

12.9 °C

 

Maximum Temperature

23.4 °C

 

Not much difference - this surprised the hell out of me, because I always imagined Calgary to be much warmer than here! Embarassed

 

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

bagkitty wrote:

Depends what they are Boom Boom, here in Calgary (where there is a debate as to whether we are zone 3 or zone 2) the only thing blooming are the very early bulbs... and they often push themselves up through snow in the first place... they dont need any extra protection - squill, bulb form of iris, crocus and chionodoxia all seem to do okay even when it is minus single digits overnight - and the tulip leaves that are up are very frost resistant... only thing I would worry about is if the snow was heavy enough to crush things... otherwise it is just badly needed moisture. If I recall correctly, you are on the lower north shore.... the zone seems similar to where I am, but a good deal more moisture. A lot depends on how much natural shelter your plants have... whether or not they are exposed to the wind in particular.

 

Whether bees are native to this continent or not (the program on Discovery Channel suggested that) one of the only ways to help them is to plant, plants that are native to the area you live.

Of course not using chemical pesticides also helps.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

lonewolfbunn wrote:

I didn't know that honey bees were introduced into the Americas.  If that's true, it is very reassuring - knowing that food crops of this continent have other means of pollinating themselves.

Of course, decline of bee populations in other parts of the world should concern all conscientious beings regardless of whether it effects them.

Most bees used in beekeeping have roots in Italy. However, you can't pollinate tomatoes with honey bees (tomatoes are not Italian). Native bee's will be much better adapted at pollinating native plants...Since NA doesn't really eat like NA did before European contact the decline of honey bees is very relevant to NA's ability to eat.

Searching in both french and english I'm having trouble figuring out the northern limit of wild bees.  I did find one native bee who's is said to exist in sub-artic regions. So maybe they can live on the north shore.  Goldenrod if you don't already have it around is probably a good plant to start with for attracting pollinators later in the season and should grow as far as zone 2.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

lonewolfbunn wrote:
Whether bees are native to this continent or not (the program on Discovery Channel suggested that) one of the only ways to help them is to plant, plants that are native to the area you live.

That makes sense, but it's also extremely limiting, since many areas of this country don't have much natural variety. Here on the Quebec coast below Labrador, for example, the only native flowers I see are daisies, dandelions and wild roses (and just outside the village there are bog plants, but they need a bog to live in, and there ain't no bogs inside our village).

Every year I order what is called  "seaside mix" and "shade mix" flowers from Veseys, and they grow quite well. The former owners of my house planted Marigolds about 15 years ago, and they are still growing well every year (I've had this house for four years now).

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

ebodyknows wrote:
 Goldenrod if you don't already have it around is probably a good plant to start with for attracting pollinators later in the season and should grow as far as zone 2.

Thanks for the idea. In my earlier post I had completely forgotten about this one - it indeed grows wild in these parts, and I should be able to transplant a few of them in my backyard.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Everytime I see this thread title I think of bees partying with sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll.Laughing

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Boom Boom wrote:

Wow - I always believed Calgary to be in a higher zone because I thought it was much warmer in the summer than here on the Lower North Shore which is zoned 3a, but according to the Plant Hardiness Zones of Canada Calgary is zoned 3b (I decided not to hotlink that zone map because it's a huge file).

Like I said earlier, there is confusion and debate over what zone Calgary should be classified as, I have frequently seen it lumped in as 3A - and there are variables within the city... Personally, I am on the crest of a very high hill, totally exposed to the north (and extremely windy), the leaves from my tulips are only about 3 inches high, while people living in the same co-op whose units are further down the east slope of the hill we are built on already have tulips blooming. That whole "micro-climate" thing coming into play. A big problem here is the number of frost free days... a quick google search came up with this table, but I do have serious doubts about how valid it is.

As to wild bees, there is an excellent site that helps identify the ones found here in Alberta, as I mentioned earlier, I have already seen white tailed bumblebees this year. There was a feral colony of honeybees nesting in a neighbour's deck a couple of years back, but most of what turns up in my yard are various bumbles, and each year I end up finding solitary burrowing bees in the flowerbeds. I get a lot of leaf cutting bees later in the summer. I am not certain if there is an equivalent site for insects of Quebec, but might be worth looking for one. I also ran across an interesting University of Montana site on pollinating insects (and given the geographical proximity, it has quite a bit of relevance here in Calgary). Something to bear in mind if you don't notice a lot of native bees in your area is the wide range of insects that serve as pollinators for native plants (here on the prairies, one of the important ones [for native plants] is the highly unpopular mosquito...).

If you don't mind suggestions on attracting pollinators, there are two plants I would strongly recommend (and trust me, if they do well in my very exposed yard in here in Calgary, I am pretty sure they will do okay regardless of what the lower north shore can toss at them).

The first is commonly called Lamb's Ear in English (stachys byzantina). Although it is normally grown for its foilage, the bees and butterflies find its flowers irresistable... they are crawling all over the blooms in the June and July. Sunny is best (will accept some shade), and they prefer "poor" soil... they actually do poorly in overly-rich soil - they are perennial, non-invasive and extremely drought tolerant - and deer leave them alone (not a concern here in the centre of Calgary, but something people in rural areas might want to consider). I wouldn't try growing it from seed, it is really easy to separate and I would suggest begging, borrowing or stealing a section from someone who already has one - really high success rate from division.

The second is usually called Maltese Cross or Rose Campion in English (lychnis chalcedonica). Clusters of bright red flowers, the plant grows about a metre or metre and a half high, not much horizontal "spread"), will need support if in a windy place, sunny to mixed shade. Again, very popular with bees and butterflies. Needs better soil than Lamb's Ear, and the soild should be both moist and well drained. Short-lived perrenial, it self-seeds and naturalizes... not too aggressively, but you should watch that it doesn't escape into natural areas. Grows easily from seed and does well from division.

I have had good luck with both, and given the zone similarities, I would expect you would too.

 

 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

bagkitty wrote:
If you don't mind suggestions on attracting pollinators, there are two plants I would strongly recommend (and trust me, if they do well in my very exposed yard in here in Calgary, I am pretty sure they will do okay regardless of what the lower north shore can toss at them).

The first is commonly called Lamb's Ear in English (stachys byzantina).

The second is usually called Maltese Cross or Rose Campion in English (lychnis chalcedonica).

I have had good luck with both, and given the zone similarities, I would expect you would too.

Thank you! I welcome all suggestions. I'll have to do a search and see if either or both of these varieties is available to me somehow.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Whoops, forgot to mention something. I don't know if Quebec has the equivalent of the Alberta Invasive Plants Council, nor what the equivalent of the Weed Control Act is. I would, though, strongly suggest checking for equivalents.

At my housing co-op, we are dealing with infestations of two noxious weeds (creeping bellflower and scentless chamomile) one of which was brought in by someone intentionally because it was so "pretty" and the other which was windblown - and I expect that yellow clematis will be turning up soon, it is already choking out things along the Elbow River which is only a couple of blocks away. What is considered restricted or noxious varies widely from region to region. I was talking to someone and bragging that I had managed to naturalize some lupines (which border on being out of zone) and they were surprised that nurseries sold them here... according to them, they were considered noxious in Nova Scotia.

I guess you just have to remember that one person's attractive perennial is somebody else's weed.

[ETA: one of the interesting things on the Invasive Plants Council website is the advice to never sow packaged "wild flower" seeds unless the package lists all the possible seeds that may be included... that the people doing the packaging are not always taking into account the varied jurisdictions where their product is sold... that the words "wild flower" are a marketing designation, not a horticultural one, and just because it says "wild flower" does not mean it is suitable or free of seeds of plants that are invasive]

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

My supplier - Veseys - lists most (not all) the varieties:

 

Seaside Wildflower Mix: Great for coastal areas with sandy or rocky soils (but not pure beach sand). Tolerates some salt spray. Perennial and reseeding annuals include California Poppy, African Daisy, Lance-leaved Coreopsis, Gaillardia, Shasta Daisy, Dwarf Godetia, Corn Poppy, Clarkia, Blue Sage, Black-Eyed Susan, Lilac Godetia, Perennial Candytuft, Goldfields, Sweet Alyssum, Plains Coreopsis, Common Evening Primrose and Wild Thyme.

Bird and Butterfly Mix:  Contains a mixture of twenty different reseeding annuals or perennials including Butterfly Flower, Bachelor's Button, Godetia, Coreopsis, Larkspur, Poppies, Gaillardia, Liatris, Flax, Rudbeckia and Salvia.

I planted both of these mixes last spring, I don't think any of them survived the winter. I just planted both mixes for this year, I'll check closely to see any weeds (didn't see any at all from these mixes last summer).

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Unless the growing conditions there are radically different, you can pretty much be assured that the California Poppies will be back (one of my favourites, they don't attract a lot of bees or butteflies... but the orange blooms last for weeks) - probably too early for them to be sprouting yet, but look for leaves that look a little like carrot greens... I would think the corn poppy and shasta daisy are likely to come back too. I have tried quite a few of the others myself, but of those thyme and liatris are the only ones that have successfully overwintered or reseeded (although I grow liatris from tuber, not seed). I have been thinking about suitable plants a bit more, and if I get away from the focus on attracting bees, I can think of two others that are really nice. The first (well actually it is an entire family of plants) is sedum - I have multiple varieties in my yard, lots of low, spreading ones often referred to as Stonecrop (usually yellow blooms - there are lots of sub-varieties though, and the fleshy leaves are interesting even when it isn't blooming) and a late fall blooming variety that grows about knee high called Autumn's Joy... purplish-red flowers that look a lot like broccoli florerts... they dont flower till September, but are frost resistant and last into October, some colour at the end of the season). The nice thing about all the sedums is that they can easily be propogated from cuttings, stalks will almost always root themselves. If you know anyone growing them, try to see if they will give you a cutting. They are extremely reliable perennials and easy to propogate when you want more. The other flowering plant saponaria ocymoides which I purchased as a bedding out plant from Canadian Tire under the name Soapwort. Ugly name for a nice plant LOL... it is a spreading plant with masses of bright pink blooms. All of the sedums and the soapwort do fine in poor and/or rocky soil.

Jeez, going on and on, what can I say, I am a frustrated gardener, and the rule of thumb here is that anything you try to plant before Victoria day is going to get killed off by the weather... something our Central Canadian Overlords and Wet Coasters don't have to contend with. ROTFLMAO

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

It appears that nothing is coming back from that flower bed, sadly. That bed is right on the edge of the cliff at the back of my property, so if the weather didn't kill them, then the wind probably finished them off. There's nothing there. I re-seeded hese beds a couple of days ago - a full month early, as it's warm (8C) in the daytime now, and not extremely cold (-2C) at night. I just didn't want to wait any longer! Call me impatient. I hope everything grows, but you're probably right - anything I plant before Victoria Day will probably die or just fail to grow at all.  Just in case, I've re-ordered (they're cheap seeds).

 

ps: how do you know so much??? I'm impressed!

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Killing myself laughing here at the how do you know so much comment...

Unlike milder zones, gardening here is not a hobby, it is declaring war on the weather. Picked up a lot from the other people in the housing co-op who garden, and bought several regional specific gardening books (Calgary and region is large enough to support publishing a few books that don't assume that the people reading them live in a climate where you can put plants in the ground and then just water them occasionally and assume they will survive). Everything else is trial and multiple errors.

One trick I learned for the California Poppies is to buy a package of seed that just contained them (not a wildflower mixture), mark off an area and sow, then, in the late fall after they have died back, cover that area with a layer of gravel about an inch thick (just about anything but the gravel they sell for traction on icy roads, too much salt in that most times). They will have self seeded by that time, and in the late spring they will sprout through the gravel (and don't worry if you haven't seen anything in your bed yet, it is too early for them to have sprouted... usually don't see any evidence of them until late May or early June). The seeds are small enough and heavy enough that they will self-seed there through multiple seasons (the seeds just work through the gravel), while the other small seeds that get blown in (weeds mostly) aren't heavy enough to work through the gravel. It creates a self-replicating patch that doesnt need weeding. If you have any scrap wood lying around, you can make a small frame for the area to keep the gravel in place.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I may try that sometime - I'll save this for next year. There's a stockpile of gravel not far from here, but we can't get any for our personal use - it belongs to the Quebec Ministry of Transportation, and is reserved only for the road. There's no salt added - it was blasted and crushed right here, with nothing added to it.

We had a really mild winter, very little snow, and I got my hopes up that perhaps we can start growing things earlier this year.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

I was thinking it might be good to make a database system that could help you choose what plants grow in your area and I found somebodies already started: http://nativeplants.evergreen.ca/search/advanced.php  Seems like it might be decent in determining what might grow in your given situation.  I'd be interested in knowing how helpful you find it to use.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Gee, they have wetlands, marshes, swamps, bogs, fens and ponds.... but nothing between prairie and alpine for those living in the foothils. Hmmm, do I detect a central canadian overload understanding of Canadian geography (hey, it isn't the only pony I've got, but it is pretty much my favourite).

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

It is a toronto based group that runs that website(right beside where the bees get groovy actually.) but it is the first thing that came up when i searched for a 'canadian plant database' Is anyone in aberta trying to keep track of the plants in the foothills in a similar way? Where do I go for western plant biasis?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

bagkitty?

...perhaps you should take a closer look at some of those terms you list.

Quote:
What is a fen?: A fen is a specific type of wetland normally occurring in montane to sub-alpine ecological settings. Fens, generally have waterlogged, spongy ground containing alkaline decaying vegetation. The vegetation is typically dominated by rushes or sedges, which over the centuries may develop into peat. Many fens in the Rocky Mountain Region are as old as 14,000 years—dating to the Holocene and Pleistocene eras—which were created shortly after glacial retreat. 

I've only ever heard the term fen used in combination with the word alpine, as in 'alpine fen'. 

We overlords don't have any of those in Ontario.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Oh I did LTJ, and if you check, the difference between a fen and a bog is that the former is alkaline, the latter is acidic... otherwise they are just damp places that the website I was referring to seems to think worthy of distinct classification... the word fen itself is of Old English origins, with clear Germanic roots... If you dig a little deeper, you will discover that large areas of eastern England were historically "fenland" (since drained for agricultural purposes), hardly alpine. You will also find that there are fens in the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario

What I was decrying was the failure to separately identify the foothills (the Whaleback in Southern Alberta being the prime example) as a distinct geographical area with unique plant life, particularly along the eastern slopes of the Rockies.

ebodyknows: I would suggest the Alberta Native Plant Council website as a good place to start (their link tab is quite instructive) - they are currently featuring a nice piece on the (misnamed) prairie crocus (anemone patens) - and it is possible to purchase a related plant in most commercial nurseries and large retailers like Canadian Tire and Home Depot, the Pasqueflower (anemone pulsatilla).

Of the flowering native plants, I can only think of a few that are widely available for sale: blanket flower (gaillardia aristata), yarrow (achillea millefolium), Joe-Pye Weed (eupatorium purpureum), wild indigo (baptisia australis) (strangely enough, wild indigo also naturally occurs in yellow and white form) and the provincial floral symbol, the wild rose (rosa woodsii). There are, of course, a large number of other attractive flowering native plants from the mountains, foothills, parkland and prairie settings - but most are not commercially available, and many are threatened, endangered and/or protected under provincial law, so trying to "harvest" them from their natural setting is not really a good idea - not to mention that because of long tap roots required to deal with the arid environment, the ones in my most immediate area to not tend to survive attempts at transplanting them.

One thing that the site you linked to got me thinking about was the distinctions between native, naturalized, invasive and plants that were simply "in-zone". When I was responding to BoomBoom I was think of the last category (in-zone) while trying to make sure I didn't I suggest anything that was likely to naturalize and be invasive (and BoomBoom, if you are reading this, of the plants I have mentioned in this post, conditions your way are probably not dry enough for wild indigo, and yarrow has a tendency to become quite invasive... I wouldn't recommend it if you are in a setting where it would have a chance of escaping your garden).

I know a few gardeners here in Calgary who have gone with entirely native plants and have done very well, unfortunately this means a heavy emphasis on decorative clump grasses. I kinda like the "showy" in your face blooming stuff, so I tend to focus on plants which are "in-zone", which of course means that I have a lot of stuff in my yard that is European or Asian in origin... What can I say, I am a sucker for the wow effect of a saucer sized poppy bloom or the bright yellows of a heliopsis.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I read through Tips for Choosing Native Species and plants native to Quebec, but there's so many - I'll have a look-see and try to narrow down to Quebec saltwater coastline plants. It's an interesting website.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

bagkitty wrote:

 I kinda like the "showy" in your face blooming stuff, so I tend to focus on plants which are "in-zone", which of course means that I have a lot of stuff in my yard that is European or Asian in origin...

Thanks for sharing your experience insights bagkitty it is much appreciated.  I guess I'm focused on the native plants as I'm just assuming there is a higher chance to be a relationship with the native pollinators. Without people like you sharing their experiences I'm not sure how to determine what in-zone plants will benifit native bees.

Brian White

Hi, ebody.  bumblebees have taken over an old wrens birdhouse  here and brown gooey water is oozing out of the bottom. What is it?  Do they urinate?

It is messier than when the birds were in there!  I guess they rearanged the moss and bird stuff inside so there is only a small hole for entry.

I hope the brown drip is not some bee sickness.

Brian

Tommy_Paine

 

I know some bumblebees scent mark flowers and their nests, but I can't imagine it would be in any volume that would drip, or even be noticeable to the naked eye.    Is the old bird house in direct sunlight for any part of the day?   Bumble bees store just a few days worth of food in wax pots... maybe the heat from direct sunlight melts the wax and the contents and it drips out?   If so, I bet the bees move to a new location soon.    

Let us know what it is, if you find out Brian.   I've had bumble bees nesting all over the place over the years, and I've never noticed something like that.

 

 

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

As I understand it, bumblebees do make a sort of 'honey', but it is not stored in nice clean combs the way honeybees do it. My guess is that TP's correct, and it's wax and their dirty kind of honey dripping out. 

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I've only seen a few bees in my gardens, but no butterflies at all - and I've been on the Quebec coast since 1995. Are other folks noticing a scarcity in butterflies as well?

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

I've read bumblebees can store several ounces of honey but to have that great a volume at this time of year suprises me.  I also don't imagine they would ordinarily keep it is such a way that it would drip.

In honey bees there are 2 types of a disease called nosema one of which causes dysentry. The bumble bee is known to carry a related disease named nosema bombi.  However, I can't find any reference to dysentry being a sign/symptom.

Hopefully they do alright.

Brian White

I am afraid that it looks like the bee disentry. I saw a big blue fly show interest.  It is well shaded so I think their pots are fine.   On a related note, Vancouver island is in bee quarantine. (No honey bees from the mainland are allowed here) But the provincial government want to change that.  Aparently there are several bee diseases on the mainland that are not here.   Aparently the island bee keepers are hopping mad about this.  The last serious outbreak of bee diseases was due to an illegal hive snuck through onto one of the gulf islands, I think. I am not sure what commercial interest is pulling the bc lib chains.  One thing I wonder about is orchard masons.  There is commercial trade in them so hopefully none are being brought in from the mainland.     Yesterday was the second hot day of the year here.  I wasn't working.  In my garden, saw masons, leafcutters, one with a green back and about 3 other types.  Various types of wasps were on the go too, including some polinators.  A few butterflys including the first cabbage whites.  There were also a few balls of tiny spiders.  (The ones where if you touch the web, they all run from the center and it expands like the universe at the big bang).

I have a pile of subsoil where little bees ans wasps are burrowing and there are insects that look like tiny termites running around.  It is pretty dry so I am a bit confused about them.  I know we have gazalions of termites here. The giant dampwood and the tiny black ones can be seen in the fall at the winged stage. (Hundreds of millions of the tiny black ones in september).  Nobody notices!

The drip from the bumbles is splashing on a bag of cement I have below.  I hope they recover. Natural selection can be real cruel and I think I have to let nature take its course.  (and bleach the birdhouse as soon as they are gone).   The little wrens use it the whole winter for the last 5 years. So it must be suitable to them.

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