Anyone who thinks that gardening begins in the Spring and ends in the Fall, is missing the best part of the whole year; for gardening begins in January with the DREAM - Josephine Neuse.
Photo credit: Delia Crittenden Photography
Why do we call leafcutter bees "solitary bees" when clearly they co-exist in a hut and nesting blocks that are full of thousands of other bees? If you have leafcutter bees in your yard will they chase away other species of bees?
Leafcutter and other solitary bees do not live in a colony nor do they have a queen bee. The male leafcutters hatch first and live approximately one week during which time they fertilize the female bees. Female leafcutters live approximately eight weeks and have full responsibility for building cocoons, laying eggs and collect pollen and nectar to provide a food source for their eggs. They will provide each larvae with everything it needs but they do not tend to the young as they grow and never get to see their offspring emerge.
Solitary bees are also known as "gregarious" which means they can happily co-exist with other bees in close proximity. They are non-aggressive and do not swarm and are safe around pets and children. No protective equipment is required to be around leafcutter bees and other solitary bee species.
Listen to the sound of thousands of busy leafcutter bees as they build cocoons inside a commercial-sized nesting block. This was a hot summer day when the bees from a nearby alfalfa field were at their peak activity level. And yes, it was the inspiration for our Backyard Pollinator idea! #thatsalotofbees
Anyone else dreaming of spring on this snowy, blustery day? Warm sun, bees buzzing and plants growing.....sometimes it's hard to be patient and endure the northern hemisphere winter months.
As a follow-up to our "I Spy Lots of Blue Huts" post the other day, watch Jed's video from inside a hut with a few thousand leafcutter bees.
Let's talk about POLLEN and NECTAR. Pollen contains protein and fat and is a necessary food source for developing bee larvae. Nectar is sweet, high in sugar and provides energy to the foraging bee.
Leafcutter bees are known as "super pollinators" for several reasons. As the bees forage on flowers, pollen sticks to the hairs on their belly. This pollen drops readily as the bees move from flower to flower, thus "pollinating" the various plants. A single leafcutter bee may visit thousands of flowers in a single day. They are not fussy about which flowers they visit in their foraging activities.
The female bees cut pieces of leaf and begins forming the cocoon inside the nesting tunnel. She lays an egg on a mound of food (pollen and nectar paste), then finishes forming the cocoon. The larvae hatches from the egg and feasts on the pollen and nectar. This larvae stays in a dormant stage over the winter months and when placed in warm temperatures (23 days at 30C) will emerge as an adult bee.
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