June 12, 2014

You might have started to wonder about me with my insect obsession. Well, just like everyone, I’ve heard news coverage about honey bees struggling to survive against fungi and parasites. I’ve definitely seen the effects in my yard, as fewer honey bees visit my flowers. And, like most gardeners, I realize honey bees play an essential role in pollinating many fruits and vegetables.

What can I do? Well, I’m not ready to bring in a bee hive. They’re expensive, and our cold winters mean they don’t have good survival. Instead, I’ve focused on supporting my native bees and bumblebees. Native bees are small, anonymous — and very efficient pollinators.

My big push has been to plant native wildflowers instead of the ordinary flowers we’re all used to. I’ve kept the sunflowers, corepsis and coneflowers but added yarrow, blue flax and penstemons. I even saved some native asters from the neglected property next door.

The next step will be to make habitat improvements aimed at providing good nesting sites. In order to choose those wisely, I need to know which native bees are already present in my ecosystem. Hence the insect-watching.

And there’s been a lot to watch. It’s fun to find new nests in odd corners and get a glimpse of nature that I never saw before.

PS — It’s amazing what you see when you slow down and look around.

Coming up this weekend the Town and Country Iris Society hosts its annual flower show. There will be displays and official judging in horticultural and artistic categories. That’s at the Spokane Valley Mall on June 14th, from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free.

With warmer weather, I have my patio table set up with the umbrella in place. Or, I did. My husband took the umbrella down to refinish the table. I’ll have to get on him to finish up so I can have my shady spot back.

Cherries and strawberries are getting their familiar red color. Not only that, but my blackberries are blooming. It looks to be a sweet harvest this year. Visions of jelly are dancing in my head.

Indoor Forest
I’ve learned that Sedums are a very drought-tolerant plant that comes in lots of interesting shapes and colors. And bees love the flowers! So I’m deciding where to put the one I bought at the Friends of Manito sale last weekend. Also, my Hen-And-Chicks has put out lots of little stalks. I need to research how to propagate those.

In addition to the native bees and bumblebees I already knew about, I’ve also found tiny black Oil Bees and a larger Leaf-Cutter Bee. I suspect they’re coming over from the yard next door, which was neglected for so many years. My biggest worry is that the humans who have moved in will start to fix the place up and displace those nests. Only time will tell.

Until next week, bee happy!


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