June 24, 2015
A bumble bee waking up early in the morning in my garden. I don’t see as many bumble bees as I did a decade ago. Bumble bees are one of 1,500 species of native bees in California and 4,000 in the US.
Possibly evidence of ground nesting bees in an undisturbed, unmulched area of my garden.
Native bees are excellent pollinators, do not swarm, rarely sting and are not subject to colony collapse disorder like European honey bees. We can encourage populations to increase by planting more flowers which provide a rich source of nectar and pollen.
Read an excellent and informative editorial from the LA Times:
Unfortunately, the single-minded focus on European honey bees — on banning certain pesticides, for instance, or allowing backyard beekeeping in Los Angeles, which the City Council is on the verge of doing — has obscured the importance of native bees. Few people are even aware that they exist, yet there are 1,500 species in California alone. Provided with the right habitat — a variety of flowering plants that aren’t sprayed with pesticide — they’ll thrive in the ground or in holes in pieces of wood. They’re easy neighbors: prolific pollinators that don’t swarm. Most of them don’t sting, and they don’t suffer from colony collapse disorder. They come in all kinds, from the metallic emerald of the ultra-green sweat bee to the fuzzy black-and-yellow California bumblebee that excels at pollinating tomatoes. And they need help; dozens of species nationwide are in danger of extinction from loss of habitat. Read more
Other resources on native bees:
Garden Allies: Solitary Bees (Pacific Horticulture)
Plant to attract bumblebees and other interesting native bees (Las Pilitas Nursery)
Native bees are a rich natural resource in urban California gardens (California Agriculture)
Pollinator Conservation (The Xerces Society)
A random thought: Consider the bees when you’re deciding between gravel/plastic turf and a diverse native plant garden.