In 2016, for the first time, bees were added to the endangered species list in the United States. 7 species of Hawaiian yellow-faced bees, native to Hawaii, were added. Then in early 2017, the first bee to be placed on the endangered species list by the Fish and Wildlife Service in the continental US was the rusty patched bumblebee. At the time of this writing the new administration in the White House had put this one on hold.
The Rusty Patched Bumblebee
Rusty patched bumblebees are the first bee in the continental US to be placed on the endangered species list for federal protection. This species has undergone an incredibly rapid decline by almost 90% in the last two decades. These large, furry-looking bumble bees used to be a common sight in most of North America, but this is no longer the case. They are essential pollinators of tomatoes, peppers, blueberries and other important crops.
Bees on the Endangered Species List
According to the Fish and Wildlife Service, once a species is on the list, it is easier for them to create partnerships and gather resources towards the goal of saving the endangered population. In the case of bees, this is no simple task. The decline of this bee (and also that of many other bee species worldwide) is thought to be caused by a combination of factors: diseases, lack of habitat, climate change and, of course, harmful pesticides and insecticides especially neonicotinoids. Neonicotinoids are used in products for gardens, farm crops and pets. Continue reading Bees on the Endangered Species List→
I got this simple bamboo mason bee house for my daughter last year. I chose this one because it had a nice modern look, and was made from bamboo. It was also one of the least expensive I saw. I thought it would be a great way to learn about bees and attract them to our yard. I have learned a lot since buying this house a year ago. See this post about getting my first bees and how I had to rig this house to make it safe and functional by basically taking it completely apart. I recommend looking at the mason bee houses and supplies at Crown Bees, where I got my mason bees, if you are looking for a bee house.
Mason bees are non-agressive, native bees that lay their eggs in narrow passages, like those in the bee house. Unlike honey bees, they are solitary bees. The females make their own nests and there are no worker bees. They lay their eggs in hollowed tubular shapes, such as hollow reeds or holes in wood. When a nest is filled with eggs, they plug the end and move on to find the next nest great post to read.
These mason bee houses and others like them provide lots of tube shaped spaces for bees to create nests and lay their eggs. If it looks plugged up with mud or something pasty you’ll know it is filled with eggs. So far in ours, none of the tubes are filled. I’m not sure if we just don’t have mason bees around here or if they have plenty of other spaces nearby in which to lay their eggs. Continue reading Product Review: Bamboo Mason Bee House→
Are you not quite sure how to tell honey bees from some of their look-alikes? All black and yellow pollinators are not created equal. Next time, take a closer look and you will soon learn to clearly see the differences between honey bees, bumble bees and wasps. Yellow jackets, hornets and paper wasps are all technically types of wasps — Not that it matters should you get stung.
So, what do honey bees look like? And how to tell them from their relatives?
I was deciding how much honey to buy from a local beekeeper the other day. We met in a playground parking lot while her kids happily played in the rain. “It never goes bad!” she told me.
“They found it in Egyptian tombs.”
She knew I was interested in beekeeping so she went on to tell me which essential oils she uses to treat mites and how to tell when the hive starts to reject a queen. She had a squirmy baby in her arms and three other young kids in tow and I was the one who couldn’t follow the conversation! Once my brain cleared, I did a bit of research.
Does honey go bad?
Nope! My new beekeeper friend was right! Honey that was thousands of years old was indeed found in Egyptian tombs. I doubt anyone tasted it, but it had remained preserved in jars for that long. Continue reading Does Honey Go Bad?→
Beekeeping has always been one of those things in the back of my mind. One of those thoughts that I don’t even let fully surface before I knock it down. I would love to learn how to become a beekeeper, but...Or, wouldn’t it be fun to have a little beehive… And then life goes on, as it does, and I haven’t gotten a beehive, or learned the cello, or made my own shampoo. Our world doesn’t always make space for these little glimpses of ideas that make no sense and seem to serve no real purpose.
But more and more it feels like those odd little ideas and tiny nonsensical sparks ARE life. And they deserve our full attention, if we can trust just a little.
So how does a person who knows nothing about bees, learn how to become a beekeeper?