Archive for November, 2013

Siberian Squill, that is.

“An excellent source of blue pollen,” says BBHB, who has graciously given me permission to use his photo of Siberian Squill.

Planting instructions according to Wisconsin Master Gardening Program:  Plant the small bulbs in the fall, placing them 2 to 3 inches deep and 2 to 4 inches apart.  Because of the ephemeral nature of the foliage, this small bulb can easily be grown in sunny lawns. To plant Siberian squill in turf, scatter the bulbs randomly in the area you want them. Then punch or auger a hole in the sod, using a dibble or other implement (some people suggest a cordless drill with a large bit), wherever a bulb has fallen. Place the bulb (pointed side up) at the bottom of the hole and fill in with additional soil. Wait until the bulb’s foliage has started to die down in spring before resuming mowing the lawn.

That sounds easy enough.  I’m planting them tomorrow.

One of the first spring-flowering bulbs, easy to grow, cold hardy,  blue pollen for the bees..what’s not to like?  It’s considered invasive.

Discussion about Siberian Squill on beesource.com  Why is it that so many of the plants that bees like are considered invasive???  I’m planting anyway because it’s an early food source, good for the bees,  can grow in my lawn, is deer resistant, and will go dormant by mid May.

The cordless drill worked well.  I planted 50 bulbs hoping it would be enough to get videos of bees carrying blue pollen in March.

November 9, 2013…The cordless drill worked well. I planted 50 bulbs of Siberian Squill hoping it would be enough to get videos of bees carrying blue pollen in March.  Snowdrops will be going in as soon as I can find a source.

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My son teaches chemistry.  He likes to show experiments that his students can relate to.  In this example, he wants to show what happens when you pour some water on calcium carbide.

More information on carbide lamps

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Mid October...the bees are bringing in baskets loaded with orange pollen.

Mid October…the bees are bringing in baskets loaded with orange pollen.

When I saw how much pollen was coming into Bee Beard log hive, I wanted to find out where it was coming from.   I knew it had to be ivy  because that’s the only thing in bloom this late.  I set out to prove my theory.

I went to my known ivy patches, which just happened to be in the sun…perfect.

Mid October...An American Painted Lady (I think)

Mid October…An American Painted Lady (I think)

I didn’t see any bees at this first place, but this butterfly posed for me long enough to get a short video.  She is sipping nectar through her long proboscis which acts like a flexible straw.

This looks like a bee, but the eyes are different.

This looks like a bee, but the eyes are different.  It’s a fly who is grooming herself in the sun.  The video shows her rubbing her front legs and using them to scrape the pollen off the top of her body.

I see Barbara out walking her dogs.  She knows I’m obsessive about bees and mentions an ivy covered wall that was buzzing with bees.  I head over.

This ivy wall was buzzing with bees...I'm going to get lots of opportunities to shoot bee videos.

This ivy wall was buzzing with bees…I’m going to get lots of opportunities to shoot bee videos.

I knew something was weird with this when her proboscis touched the top of the stamen and rubbed it.

I knew something was weird with this when her proboscis touched the top anther and rubbed it.  It’s another fly that resembles a bee.

This looks like a white-trimmed black wasp, but it's the wrong habitat for it.  Can anyone ID it for sure?

This looks like a white-trimmed black wasp, but it’s the wrong habitat for it. Can anyone ID it for sure?  It’s another ‘buzzing insect’ working the ivy.

Celeste A. S. Mazzacano, Ph. D.
Staff Scientist / Aquatic Conservation Director, Xerces Society Project Coordinator, Migratory Dragonfly Partnership

Celeste replied to my request to for an identification of this wasp…
Pat, I am pretty sure that what you have are some lovely shots of the  White-faced Hornet (Vespula maculata, also known as Dolichovespula maculata,  not sure which name is the most current).  The markings are quite distinctive, especially around the eyes and thorax, and this is the only West Coast wasp species that is white and black–all the others are yellow and black.  These dudes are apparently aggressive little stingers, and the adults are predatory on small invertebrates, so I don’t think they’d be more than incidental pollinators.  They make above-ground nests out of chewed wood pulp, but a colony only lasts for one year–they die off over the winter, except for females that mate at the end of summer and start new colonies the following spring.  These are nice photos!     Thanks, Celeste.

Finally I see an actual honeybee who is sipping nectar, but no pollen is evident.

Finally I see an actual honeybee who is sipping nectar, but no pollen is evident.

Another look, but no pollen is visible.

Another look, but no pollen is visible.

I spot a bee on a dandelion, pollen sprinkled on her abdomen.  A close look revealed none in her pollen baskets.

I spot a bee on a dandelion, pollen sprinkled on her abdomen. A close look revealed none in her pollen baskets.

I can see I was mistaken about the pollen going into my hives.  It can’t be ivy just yet…not sure what it is, but I’ll keep looking.

Important facts about ivy

Removing English Ivy from trees

Patricia talks about the importance of ivy as a nectar source for insects late in the year.

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