Posts Tagged ‘pollinators’

February 13, 2014...This bumble bee (bombus Melanopygus, I believe) was sipping honey when we noticed all the mites on her back.

February 13, 2014…This bumble bee (bombus Melanopygus, I believe) was sipping honey when we noticed all the mites on her back.  We would like to try to remove them…Does anyone have any ideas of how to accomplish that?

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December 27...Bees in Bee Beard Log Hive have found a pollen source late in the year.

December 27…Bees in Bee Beard Log Hive have found a pollen source late in the year.  Natural comb can be seen in the rear.  In the video, the bees can be seen entering the hive and moving downward in front of the comb.

December 27...Warre Hive is being fed with a dry sugar mix consisting of green tea, chamomile tea, nettle leaf extract oil, and a few other little gems.  The sugar was placed on a 2" x 2" frame and positioned between the brood box and the quilt box, then sealed with red tape.

December 27…Warre Hive is being fed with a dry sugar mix consisting of green tea, chamomile tea, nettle leaf extract oil, cane sugar, and a few other little gems. The sugar was placed on a 2″ x 2″ frame and positioned between the brood box and the quilt box, then sealed with red tape.  I’m not real excited about  feeding sugar to the bees.  It’s possible that I won’t do that next year, but that’s what I said last year too.  It’s the only hive that is being fed this year.

December 27...Even this little hive was flying today.  The pink insulation is meant to cut the cold wind, but it still lets the hive breathe through the quilt box on top.

December 27…Even this little hive was flying today. The pink insulation is meant to cut the cold wind, but it still lets the hive breathe through the quilt box on top.

Status of hives one year ago

This short video shows the bees bringing in gobs of orange pollen.

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Sweet Thunder provides the delightful musical background for this video of hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies at work in my garden on the Oregon Coast.

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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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I asked Kiera O’hara, the composer and pianist of the background music, “Song for Earth Day.”
“I’ve got the melody replaying itself over and over again in my head. Since you wrote it can you describe the background of it? I’m always curious how a person comes up with music, probably because I’m so NOT musical.
There’s that little voice towards the end (at 3:10) that says to me, “But why can’t I?”  or “but what about this?”  It’s definitely a question. That’s how it sounds to me. :-)”

Her reply…

You’ve got it, exactly! That ending was meant to sound tentative–the vulnerability of the earth asking for help, and the question lingering for us humans, will we help?

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…reads the headline of my letter to the editor last week.

The Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge

has a mosquito problem.  During summer high tides, water fills holes that don’t drain back out.  Pools provide habitat for the salt marsh mosquito, Aedes dorsalis.  People that live near the marsh complain that they can’t go outside without mosquitos biting them.  “It’s hard to get to the car from the back door without several mosquito bites.”  I can’t mow my yard without several layers of clothing.”  “I love to garden, but I feel like I’m under house arrest, because the mosquitos are so vicious.”  The motels have had cancellations, the real estate people can’t show houses, and the golfers are getting eaten alive.

Pressure to DO SOMETHING NOW drove the decision to aerial spray not just the 300 acres of the Marsh, but another 10,000 to 12,000 acres of outlying area.   That’s when I heard about it.  Shigeo Oku, vice-president of Coos County Beekeepers Association called  to warn me.  “Pat, they are going to spray near your place.  You better do something about it.”  I’m thinking “Whaaat?   The Marsh is a few miles away.  They wouldn’t spray all the way down here.”  Maybe I better call the newspaper and get a look at that spray map.

The Bandon Marsh is a few miles from me...why do they have to spray so close to me?

The Bandon Marsh is a few miles from me…why do they have to spray so close to me?

I called the county to confirm.  Yes, indeed, they are planning to spray, near my house (and hives) probably  next week!

“The spraying that will be done outside of the marsh targets grown mosquitos only (not larva). Also it (Dibrom) is in a very small concentration, ¾ ounce per acre, which will ensure that it is not strong enough to effect anything larger than a mosquito, it does not kill larva, and it cannot penetrate water.”

We look up Dibrom and get NoSpray.org   Hummm, that sounds pretty bad, let’s look up another one.  Uh-oh, it’s definitely BAD!  “Very toxic to bees.”  I call the county back.  “Hey, I’m a beekeeper.  That spray can drift over and kill my bees!”

“Just cover your hives for a while.  Put your phone number on the hot line and we’ll call you when we are planning to spray.”  The county sends me a fact sheet.   “Dibrom immediately begins to breakdown upon release of the spray droplets in the open air.  Dibrom also breaks down rapidly in water and in sunlight.”

Well, that doesn’t sound too bad, maybe it’ll be okay.  Just to make sure I’m calling the Oregon State University Honeybee Department.  I’m referred to Ramesh Sagili, (Honeybee Research and Extension Entomologist), who stated that “the residual toxicity for Dibrom is TWO DAYS!”  Sagili says if the pesticide lands on a blooming plant (like a dandelion) and if the honeybee forages on that plant, the honeybee will be poisoned, for up to two days after the pesticide has been sprayed.  I can’t cover my hives for two days.

That’s what prompted my letter to the editor.  When I read the newspaper next day, I see other people have written, most notably the Xerces Society  urging the US Fish and Wildlife Service NOT to spray.

Just about that time our friendly librarian, who knows how we feel about our bees, calls us with the name of a person who is actively monitoring the situation by attending all the meetings with the County Commissioners.  We call Chris Wiggins.  She tells us at a recent meeting, the County Public Health Official has offered to hold a town hall meeting to answer questions from the public.  We tell Chris we know of a friendly local printer who would be willing to print posters advertising the meeting.  Posters are posted, notices are handed out, radio stations are called.  We go to the meeting Monday evening hoping we get enough people to let the county know “WE DON’T WANT THE SPRAY!”  I bring copies of Dibrom MSDS sheets.   (See environmental Hazards on page 2)

Happily there were too many people for the scheduled room.  A bigger room was provided.  The meeting can be best described here.

Most of the people were against spraying.   A few people said “Please spray…My life has been turned upside down because of those (bleeped) mosquitos.”  I had to sympathize with them even though I was against the spraying.  I think the single argument that swayed the commissioners most came not from people wanting to save the bees and other wild pollinators and insects,  nor from the people worried about a health risk, but from the cranberry farmers.

The cranberries will soon be harvested.  If they show any pesticide residue, (they measure in parts per trillion) their entire crop can be rejected.  Several growers asked pointed questions…”Does that pesticide specifically state ‘safe for cranberries‘ in the literature?”  “We can’t spray anything past July.”  “Are you sure there won’t be any residue on my berries?”  “What if my crop is rejected?”

Two days later, again at the County Commissioner’s meeting at the Courthouse, it was announced the Dibrom (adulticide mosquito spray) was cancelled.  MetaLarv, which is highly toxic to a wide range of aquatic insects and crustaceans would still take place on only 300 acres directly on Bandon Marsh.  While we felt bad for the wildlife that would be poisoned by the larvacide, we breathed a huge sigh of relief knowing our bees dodged a bullet.  We are hoping the US Fish and Wildlife Service will now adopt an Integrated Pest Management system to prevent this from happening again.

I am not of the opinion of many people that we should replace the flood gates to keep that area for farming.  When we first came to the area that was a dairy farm.  We hauled truckloads of cow manure to our bountiful garden.  The dairy farm has been gone for many years now. If this spot is deemed good for wildlife protection and things like carbon storage then it’s a good thing. but please don’t let the mosquitos get out of control again.

Salt Marsh, a great place to store carbon.

Salt Marsh, a great place to store carbon.

Aerial map of Bandon Marsh showing close proximetry of cranberry bogs, Bullards Beach State Park, and Coquille Lower Estuary.

Aerial map of Bandon Marsh showing close proximetry of cranberry bogs, Bullards Beach State Park, and lower Coquille Estuary.  Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways Online (www.byways.org)

Footnote:  In a conversation with a cranberry farmer, I learned that at least one of them uses the dreaded neonicotinoids on their crop.

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Blackberries are considered to be Oregon's largest nectar flow, starting mid to late June.

Blackberries are considered to be Oregon’s largest nectar flow, starting mid to late June.

If you have clover in your yard, you have a ready excuse NOT to mow the lawn..."I'm just helping out the bees!"

If you have clover in your yard, you have a ready excuse NOT to mow the lawn…“I’m just helping out the bees!”

We see hedges of Escallonia on our morning walks.  If I bring a camera, it's easy to get pictures.

We see hedges of Escallonia on our morning walks. If I bring a camera, it’s easy to get pictures.

It looked like this bee was 'biting' the pollen grains off the anthers.  I slowed down the video to see better, but it's soft on focus.  Then the deer found it, now it's gone.

It looked like this bee was ‘biting’ the pollen grains off the anthers. I slowed down the video to see better, but it’s soft on focus. Then the deer found it, now it’s gone.

Wallflower, (Erysimum) blooms all summer...and the Bumblebee, honeybees, and butterflies can be seen sipping nectar.

Wallflower, (Erysimum) blooms all summer…and the Bumblebee, honeybees, and butterflies can be seen sipping nectar.

It took us a while to identify this moth.  It's a Ctenucha multifaria, appearing on our Echium tree, June 28, 2013

It took us a while to identify this moth. It’s a Ctenucha multifaria, appearing on our Echium tree, June 28, 2013.  I couldn’t find any videos on this, so mine might have to be the first one.

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