My name is Dr Margriet Dogterom and am the founder and owner of Beediverse. I write this blog for all who love bees and who want to learn more about these wonderful creatures.
Research on non- apis bees is ongoing at the USDA lab at Logan, Utah. This to a detailed description of a 4-year project ending in 2018. Read more…
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from one flower to another. The bee does this very effectively. Bees have branched hairs that carry pollen grains. Pollen is collected from the male part of the flower called the anther. When the pollen laden bee arrives at a blueberry flower and the bee scrabbles around for pollen and or nectar, some of the pollen on the bees body lands on the sticky stigma or female part of the flower. After pollen grains land on the sticky surface of the stigma, each pollen grain will produce a pollen tube down the stem of the stigma (style) into the ovule. Fertilization of the ovule soon follows and this ovule develops into a seed. Growth and enlargement of the fruit is a response to seed development.
The more seeds in a blueberry, the larger is the fruit.
From ‘Bees of the World, editor Fran Bach
Help bees by restoring natural landscapes, roadside planting, green belts, green roofs and urban gardening initiatives. As a county with an economy strongly tied to agriculture, Solano County should care greatly about the health and well-being of bees. Educating local residents on ways to improve local living conditions for bee populations was the aim of a highly popular program being hosted by Solano Land Trust at Rush Ranch, recently. The program, moderated by University of California, Davis Professor Emeritus Robbin Thorp, helped define exactly what bees are and aren’t, identified some different varieties and ways to help support those bee populations. Related to wasps, which are carnivorous, Thorp said that bees, “are simply wasps that have gone vegan,” relying on pollen and nectar as a food source. Another key difference is that bees, unlike wasps, not only collect pollen but are adapted to do so efficiently. Bees have branched hairs on their bodies, which wasps do not, aiding in their capacity to carry pollen. Likewise, bees generate an electrostatic charge when they fly, helping pollen cling to them. The most surprising fact for many was the wide variety of bee species. Most people likely associate bees with the creatures that make honey, but there are between 20,000 to 30,000 bee species in North America, which is more than the total number of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians combined.
Original article in Beeculture by Bill Hicks. Link to article.
Mason bees would be a good choice for late blueberry varieties. The reason is that when late blooming varieties bloom, many other flowers, such as blackberry are also in bloom. Blackberry bloom produces copious amounts of nectar and soon all honey bees go to blackberry instead of blueberry bloom.
The big advantage of using mason bees is that mason bees do not travel far to find their source of pollen and nectar (like honey bees). Honey bees will travel significant distances for the best nectar, while mason bees remain local foragers.
Some blueberry varieties are known to be difficult to pollinate by honey bees. In this situation, honey bees travel away from the variety to other varieties that may have a richer source of nectar for example. In this case, mason bees are more likely to ‘stick’ around the variety that is closest to their nest.
At this stage of the mason bee industry, mason bees are more and more available for the commercial pollination of blueberry and other crops. Mason bees are now produced in the hundreds of thousands rather than the thousands of 20 years ago. This expanding production makes pollination with mason bees a reality. Dr. Margriet Dogterom
Gardening for bees is a lot of fun. One way of creating space for bee attractive plants is to create an edge of plants adjacent to your lawns. Bees need food in the form of pollen and nectar. Therefore choose plants that are attractive to bees and that are suitable for your region. The ultimate is to have flowers blooming throughout the spring, summer and autumn because different species of bees abound at different times of the year. A great way to see what attract bees is to go to a nursery at different times of the year and see which plant are the most attractive to bees. It is a fun way to go shopping. Go shopping for garden plants on a sunny day. The mornings are usually the best time to do this. Have fun and send us your pictures. The bees will love your garden and they will come back every year for your enjoyment.
This is a great fact sheet on what to consider when gardening for bees. Link to fact sheet.
“KFAR BILU, Rehovot A bee buzzed around the yellow, bell-shaped flower of the Lemon Mallee eucalyptus, one of dozens of eucalyptus varietals planted in an empty lot sandwiched between a supermarket and Route 40 of the busy
Bilu Junction. Its quiet, gracing presence in this orchard of smooth-barked eucalyptus trees proves that when flowering trees are planted, even on a dilapidated highway divider, they help preserve the local habitat for pollinating bees.”
Improving nectar and pollen availability improves the availability of food for all bees.