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Bamboo for Beneficials

November 6th, 2009

I like to use bamboo stakes in the garden because they’re sturdy and they look nice. I also like to use them because the small solitary bees use them for their nests. I was noticing when taking down all of my plant stakes that almost all of them were filled with all sizes of beneficial solitary bees (probably some of those I saw on the last queen anne’s lace the other day).
I think it’s interesting how many different kinds of solitary bees there are. Some of these stakes are plugged with mud, others are filled with bits of leaves. They also like all different sizes of stakes, I assume for all the different sizes of bees. There’s no need to buy those expensive little solitary bee houses when you use bamboo stakes
This jewel wasp is one the beneficials that’s using the bamboo, I’ve seen them coming and going from the stakes.
I think this might be a sand wasp, but I’m not positive. It might be using the bamboo stakes as well.
It’s quite fascinating really, the way nature works. The more I garden organically, the greater the variety of insects I see flitting about the garden and these little solitary bees are no exception. With the number of bamboo stake I use (over 100) I’ll have plenty of pollinators in the spring! This is a great way to attract solitary bees and wasps to your garden and they’ll pollinate your crops beautifully.

Do you do anything special to attract solitary bees or other pollinators?

Bees in the Garden

May 23rd, 2009

I love seeing the ladies in the garden working while I’m out and about. I’m always trying to take photos of them, but they’re always so busy and working so quickly. I finally got this one.
These chives are obviously delicious as you can see since she’s diving right in! I’m also very happy to see the ladies enjoying the strawberry blossoms. They’ll get lots of pollen and I’ll get lots of berries.
This year I’ve been noticing more and more pollinators in the gardens. We have many different kinds of bees and wasps around. I think it’s because we’ve been working on making our gardens more diverse with plants that are beneficial for the pollinators.

What are you doing for the pollinators in your life?

Ants and Peonies?

May 14th, 2009

What is it about ants and peony buds?
It is believed that peony buds emit a sweet sap that the ants like, it is also believed the the ants help the buds open. You don’t need ants for your peonies to bloom, and peonies will not attract ants to your gardens.

Are you peonies teeming with ants?

Checking on the Ladies

May 13th, 2009

This past Saturday we did a hive check on the ladies. I figured you’d all be wanting an update on them so I took some photos for you. We removed all of the frames from the brood box (that’s what they call the bottom boxes on the hives where the bees live). We checked each frame to see how much of it the bees had covered with comb and how much contained capped larvae.
What you see on the left hand side of this frame is capped brood, those are baby bees that are forming. On the right hand side you can see the empty hive cells, those are bees that have hatched out already.
We were super excited to see that we had our first batch of hatched bees! That is a good sign for sure. We even got to see one bee chewing her way out of her cell. We also spotting the queen, which is much easier now that we’ve gotten the hang of it since she’s not marked.
We’re quite excited at how well the ladies are doing. We added a new brood box because they had just about filled up the bottom one entirely, so now our hive is taller. It’s very exciting to see them doing so well. I’ve been spotting the ladies at work about the yard when I’m out working. It’s kind of nice to see them every now and then.

Anyone else noticing the pollinators this spring now that things are starting to bloom?

The Balance of Nature: Bugs, Good and Bad

April 30th, 2009

The insects world is quite an amazing thing, there are so many of all shapes, sizes and colors.
Insects can be good or bad; spiders are good, aphids are bad (I realize spiders aren’t technically insects, but we’re going to include them). The good insects are predatory and they feast on other insects, these are the kinds of insects you want to have around.
Some bugs are very beneficial, but they creep us out – spiders are the main culprit here. I have made peace with all of the big wolf spiders that live around our home (and boy can these guys get HUGE). I have to remember that they eat tons of bad insects.
You can order beneficial insects from various dealers and release them on your property. Certain insects can really help deal with an infestation of another insect. For example: Ladybugs LOVE aphids. If you have an aphid problem, order some ladybugs or some green lacewings. Here is some great information about the best predatory insects for your gardens.
Insects are also beneficial to the gardens because many of them are pollinators. Pollinators are great in the garden because they increase your crops.
There are all kinds of pollinators you can encourage in your gardens without actually having to keep bees. The easiest way is to buy a Mason Bee house to encourage these little orchard bees to reside on your property.

Do you welcome bugs into your gardens?

Reading & Watching

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.