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  1. Update 7th may: It's a totally clear, warm and sunny day, almost still, a marked contrast to the heavy rain and wind of the days prior. Again the chia is very heavily visited by bees and bumblebee (and a solitary monarch butterfly). There are different strains of bee present, some very dark, some totally yellow. But across all strains, about 60% of bees have pollen baskets with a brownish yellow pollen, and 40% don't.. So I was wrong about it being only a nectar source - if in fact the pollen comes from the chia.....which is not certain.
  2. And just for the record...an addendum to the addendum! Today I saw a wool carder bee on the chia! These plants are growing around 200 metres away from the dentata lavender where the wool carders usually hang out...mind you, I can't see any there at the moment. The chia plants are flowering gangbusters, and are heavily attended by bumblebees and bees. I took a moment to check the bees, and none are collecting pollen, so its a nectar 'play' for them.
  3. Updating for 2013, this year there have been 6 wool carder bees in the same location as last years bee. Most are small bees, which are, apparently, the females. http://www.bwars.com/sites/www.bwars.com/files/info_sheets/10_Anthidium_manicatum_1col_infosheet.pdf I'll be interested to see if the population expands even further in summer of 2014.
  4. Hmmm...I normally kill 2 - 4 wasp nests a year on our small lifestyle block here in Helensville, north of Auckland. This year, zero. I thought it was just a local thing. Obviously not.
  5. Here is a small addendum to the crop list in this excellent reference. This year (2013) I grew a few chia plants (Salvia hispanica) here in Helensville, north of Auckland. They produce a seed with a high omega-3 content. They are a 'short day plant', meaning that they refuse to flower until night time hours exceed daylight hours. The plants here abruptly started flowering in mid april. They are clearly going to have a relatively protracted flowering season, and the flowers are attractive to both bees and bumblebees. The crop is usually grown in drier climates, but it may well su
  6. Excellent perspective. There is another angle to the suburban forage situation. Our border of dentata lavender is in full sun all day. The dentata flower year round, and if the sun is out (or even 'outish') it will always have heaps of bees and bumblebees on it. Today, a brief observation shows about 30% plus of the bees have full pollen baskets. Another Lavandula dentata border, which is much smaller and is quite shaded, only has one or two bees and bumblebees on it on sunny days. More often than not, there are no bees. Yet the border is as floriferous as the sunny one (per plant).
  7. Yes, the wool carder bee that seems to have taken up residence near a sunny dentata lavender border seems to chase bees away from close proximity - when she's in the mood (its a bee-sized animal, so I suppose its a 'she' - males are bigger, apparently) Sometimes she briefly 'wrestles' them. But the wrestled bee, whether jabbed by the carder bees 'prongs' or not, simply hastens a short distance away to another part of the border. The 'wrestling', if done, is over in literally a second, so its impossible to see whether 'jabbing' is involved or not. I managed a photo today, my camera is
  8. Greek origanum is bee magnet par exellence. It is a summer flowerer, and the only competition are bumblebee - and me! Greek origanum flower heads (only) is extremely high in a variety of 'medicinal' oils. We harvest and dry the flower heads ('origini') for using in cooking. Interestingly, as the weather cools in autumn, the final flower heads have zero essential oils. The oils are so 'potent' we eat small pieces throughout the day when we are developing a sore throat. 9 times out of 10 it stops it in its tracks. The only 'downside' is that the essential oils are so strong that it is
  9. I was interested to see this post, as a wool carder bee appears to have taken up residence here. I am interested in which insects pollinate our small collection of avocado trees here on our Helensville lifestyle block. http://www.lauriemeadows.info/food_garden/fruit/Avocado_Pollination.html I was concerned that the wool carder might 'discourage' honey bees. But today I observed the wool carder working dentata lavender, alongside honey bees and bumblebees. It clearly works alongside honeybees in close proximity, albeit it 'bullies' honey bees off the flower it wants to work. The honey bees
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