Birds do it; bees do it... August 05, 2007
Pollinate that is (what were you thinking)! Fascinatingly enough, butterflies and moths do too. A recent article in Audubon magazine tells of the relationship between Hawk moths and Orchids, but that is for another day. Today, it was a bee that caught my eye.
While scanning photos of a recent trip to the lake, something a bit different appeared in one. A very, tiny bee was pollinating this lovely Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata. This metallic-green sweat bee, a Halictid is not much bigger than his antennae appears in this photo. Bees have been buzzing around in my brain for a while now, as “colony collapse disorder” and all of the descending theories on its cause have been news fodder.
One of the most interesting articles of late was not about the overworked non-native honeybee and its plight with stress and illness, but rather the problems occurring within the families of our native bees. There are many types of native bees and often they are suited to pollinate a particular species of plant. Honeybees, and especially the more aggressive “Africanized” honey bees infringe upon their territories, competing for their food and often infecting them with disease and parasites.
Honeybees are not native to the US and were brought here by European settlers. Apparently, Native Americans knew white men (and troubles) were nearby, whenever these non-native bees started to appear. As we all know, white men and honeybees are probably here to stay, and neither one has a very stellar record for being a good neighbor. Man’s encroaching development has been putting pressure on native habits for over 200 years now. The good news is by planting a garden with native plants, you can make a difference by providing habitat for these important traditional American bees. So carefully select your perennial plants to include native Ohio species. Studies show, even a 10’X10’ native garden can help these significant pollinators maintain their foothold and continue their important work.