A Batesian Mimic, The Bee Fly

Flies (Diptera spp.) are an eclectic group of pollinators with many species that mimic bees.  The bee fly or humblefly is a perfect example of a batesian mimic, a harmless fly mimicking a potentially harmful bee as a deterrent to predation.   This fuzzy little fly, reminiscent of a bumble bee, has a stout body, very long legs and a very long proboscis that allow … Continue reading A Batesian Mimic, The Bee Fly

Digger Bees and the Beardtongue

The foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) is an early summer favorite of the fast flying and long tongued digger bees (Anthophora spp.). This bee is easier to hear than to see, producing a loud buzzing noise as it zigs, zags and zips among the white blossoms. The best chance to get a good glimpse of this honey bee sized insect is when they pause to hover … Continue reading Digger Bees and the Beardtongue

The Perfect Lawn for Pollinators

The perfect lawn is the imperfect lawn.  The perfect lawn is rugged and natural in appearance and to the untrained eye, aka the average homeowner, would be condemned as the eyesore of the neighborhood. It is a lawn that defies cultural norms but can be aesthetically pleasing.  It has wild edges where shrubs and wildflowers seduce pollinators with sweet smells and bright colors. Unkempt corners, … Continue reading The Perfect Lawn for Pollinators

Bees Help Strawberries Reach Their Potential

Nothing says summer like the first juicy sweet strawberry of the season.   Strawberries self pollinate and are not dependent on pollinators for fertilization. BUT early summer pollinators, most notably bees ensure the berry will attain perfection. The fruit of insect pollinated flowers are not only larger and have less deformities but also firmer, with a shelf life lasting an additional 12 hours. These few … Continue reading Bees Help Strawberries Reach Their Potential

Are We Poisoning our Pollinators with Good Intentions?

Buy Plants that are Chemical Free and Pollinator Friendly!  What can backyard gardeners do to help our native bees and pollinators? The single most important step aside from not using insecticides or herbicides is to buy neonicotinoid-free flowers and vegetable plants from local nurseries or from a reputable seed provider. Do not buy plants or seeds from the “Big Box Stores” you may be poisoning … Continue reading Are We Poisoning our Pollinators with Good Intentions?

The Last Flower to Bloom

The last flower to bloom in the fall is witch-hazel, a woodland shrub. Long yellow petals form a scraggly looking flower that are in bloom as the leaves fall in the blustery winds of November.  Why, bloom so late?  A flower that blooms after all the other flowers are gone eliminates competition and on warm autumn days attracts all the attention from the remaining pollinating … Continue reading The Last Flower to Bloom

All the Buzz Down on the Farm

A Garden Snapshot The idyllic farm conjures up images of chickens scratching around the farmyard, cows grazing in green pastures, and gardens producing a bountiful harvest.  One third of our food supply is achieved through the endless effort of pollinators, in particular bees.  The economic value of insect-pollinated crops in the United States is estimated to be $20 billion dollars in 2000, with native insects … Continue reading All the Buzz Down on the Farm

Bumblebees of the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Region Supports a Diverse Bumble Bee Population. On a recent trip home to the Adirondacks, I stopped along the East branch of the Ausable River and discovered the flood plain was filled with a diverse variety of flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants.  The wildflowers hosted a  surprisingly diverse population of bumble bee species.  In the mid-Hudson Valley where I now reside, I’ve find … Continue reading Bumblebees of the Adirondacks

Fields of Trout-Lily

Trout-lily are a true spring ephemeral with thier leaves dying back shortly after the forest canopy is leafed out.  This monocot belongs to the genus Erythronium and as its common name implies is a member of the lily family.  John Burroughs, American naturalist, offered the name fawn-lily or trout-lily as an alternative to to the less attractive name of adder’s tongue, feeling the flower was … Continue reading Fields of Trout-Lily