Ask a Bumblebee

Source:  Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab (BIML) | Facebook

USGS/FWS Native Bee Lab have developed a simple Plant/Bumble Bee Survey that permits anyone to survey what plants Bumble Bees use anywhere there are Bumble Bees (literally). Our goal is to quantify which plants bumble bees use, rank them by that use, and also identify which ones they don’t use. 

We call it “Ask a Bumble Bee.”

How can I get involved? Just email <bumblebeecount@gmail.com> 

American Bumblebee, Bombus pensylvanicus

Details:

  • You don’t need to identify bumble bee species (though our goal is to get you there)
  • Everything is non-lethal 
  • You only need a cellphone (for taking pictures of plants), pencil, paper
  • You can survey any location where bumble bees occur
  • Your garden, arboretums, parks, plantings, natural areas, refuges, urban, suburban, farm, wilderness, roadsides, and weedy patches are all places we would like you to survey. The richer the plant diversity, the more plants are competing for bumble bees and clearer preference will be.
  • You can survey a site repeatedly throughout the year. 

Basic instructions:

  1. Take a half-hour walk on whatever path you like 
  2. Take notes about all the blooming plants to 10 feet on either side of that path 
  3. Count all the bees along this route and note what flowers are they on 
  4. Take pictures of all the flowering species (so we can check ids later. Note: iNaturalist.org and apps are great for insect and plant ID.) 
  5. Take pictures of your field sheets and upload all the pictures using your phone (no apps to download!) 
  6. Done (but we want you to do more than one really) 

Landscaping for Pollinator Diversity – From Southwest Yard & Garden Blog

Are all bees beneficial?

“For the most part, yes. Wild bees and honey bees need pollen and nectar to survive and establish their nests. Some bees can become pests when they build nests in areas where humans (or animals) live and play, but even those bees offer benefits as pollinators. Many bees look for open cavities or cracks in trees and walls where they can build their nests. To prevent bees from being pests in structures, patch holes or use screening. “

To read more, visit: https://nmsudesertblooms.blogspot.com/2021/03/landscaping-for-pollinator-diversity.html

What should I plant for the most pollinators?

As much as possible! Okay, that’s not much of an answer.

First, which kinds of pollinators do you want to attract?

Hummingbirdsred tubular Penstemon and Acanthus flowers work great.

Beessunflowers are your best bet.

Butterflies and moths aren’t so picky, but you’ll want to provide host plants, like milkweed for Monarchs.

Left: Male longhorn bees (genus Melissodes) shelter overnight on sunflowers (Helianthus)

Right: Spiny goldenweed (Xanthisma spinulosum) volunteers in author’s yard

Where can I buy these plants? Check out our new page here: pollinatorweb.com/host-plants/native-plant-nurseries/

Also, don’t kill all the “weeds” in your yard. Many native plants are dispersed by wind and birds and will grow on their own if given a chance.