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Old 07-17-2012, 05:40 PM   #1
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Default Saving Our Bumblebees

The Xerces Society Bumble Bee Conservation Initiative

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"The Xerces Society has collaborated with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to create a list of plants that are attractive to bumble bees. If you are interested in planting flowers in your garden or on your land to attract bumble bees, please consider using this valuable resource."
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Old 07-17-2012, 05:58 PM   #2
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Okay will look at it. I think Wild burgamot and Joe pie weed are on the list as they are covered in them at our house.
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Old 07-18-2012, 12:36 AM   #3
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The Xerces Society Bumble Bee Conservation Initiative

Xerces

"The Xerces Society has collaborated with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center to create a list of plants that are attractive to bumble bees. If you are interested in planting flowers in your garden or on your land to attract bumble bees, please consider using this valuable resource."
Thanks Jack - Lots of good stuff at that link.
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Old 07-18-2012, 08:28 AM   #4
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Thanks Jack - Lots of good stuff at that link.
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What I was somewhat surprised to see was that when an individaul plants just about any form of Asclepius, one is planting for bumblebees. Now, although most folks who plant them are doing it for Monarchs, inadvertently they are also helping out the bumblebees, as well! Moral: plant some milkweed this year!

But I found the most truly valuable information on the site to be about bumblebee nests; where to look for them, how to make them, and where to report their findings.

The article also confirmed something I had strongly suspected: that honey bees are probably one of the reasons for the decline of bumblebees. Now this may be controversial, but if they are draining the nectar from plants that the bumblebees would otherwise use, then it makes sense that honey bees are stealing the available nutrition, especially in areas with scarce nectar resources, like developed neighborhoods with expansive front lawns and a few alien specimen plantings.

What are member's reactions to this assertion? Do honey bees weaken bumblebees, as Xerces speculates?
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:07 AM   #5
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That is interesting I noticed a large number of honeybees on my milkweed when it was in bloom as well as bumblebees. That would make any interesting research topic the interspecific competition between honeybees and bumblebees. I'm sure there s someone out there working on it.
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:35 AM   #6
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Too often we forget what life is like for the vast majority of animals other than humans. For those animals life is about survival on a daily basis. Using food as one example, how many animals can count on access to food 24 hours a day 365 days a year? Bumble bees have to go out and search for food every day. If plants are not blooming and supplying pollen and nectar they will go without that day. They may have a small quantity stored in the nest, but that is not going to last very long. They have no control over the availability of flowering plants. They do not have a substitute. They can only go so far to find flowering plants.

If honey bees are introduced into the area they are going to use up some of that limited resource. Actually, they are going to use a lot of that resource; honey bee hives number in the tens of thousands. With that large of a population they are going to be able to harvest a lot more of the available pollen and nectar than a bumble bee nest which typically has a population in the 50 to 200 range. When competing for that limited resource one of those populations has to decline.

Most of the native bees in North America do not make large stores of honey/pollen. Our native bees need a small but continuous supply of nectar and pollen during their adult life stage. Native bees are going to suffer any time that nectar and pollen are not available. Honey bees on the other hand can survive long time periods when pollen and nectar are not available because of their characteristic of storing large quantities of food; enough to keep the hive alive even through the winter season.

Logic and rational analysis would seem to say that honey bees have a negative impact on bumble bee populations. Large scale studies of this hypothesis in a natural setting would be quite difficult though, which is probably one of the reasons that we don't have a lot of research results to support the idea.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:50 AM   #7
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Excellent information. A good look at citizen input on bumblebee nests would be very interesting.Not surprised to see the less than 30% occupany rate in artificial nest boxes but within gardens rodent holes can be rare. Nothing freaks the average suburbanite out more than a rodent. I wonder if old rabbit burrows count?
The top five nest sites within people occupied habitats was helpful. Bird boxes, cavities in rock walls,compost piles,under buildings/manmade structures and holes in the ground. So start adding nest boxes, and piles of field stones, brush, hay,or grass to the garden. It said the piles do not need to be large but but work best along woodlots and hedges. Some nesting material is usually left behind in an old rodent hole so a bit of cotton batting helps? What else? Maybe rabbit hair or some fine dried grass? Any ideas...and do you just put it near? If leaf cutters can carry leaf segments then maybe bumbles can move in bedding?
The plant suggestions are by no means exhaustive but show continuous bloom, spring through late fall.
All in all a great article.
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Old 07-18-2012, 01:01 PM   #8
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I do recall seeing a lot of bumblebees on my A. tuberosa last year...and only a rare honeybee. This year, I see only honeybees and have yet to see a bumble on it.

I did however see a bumblebee flying circles around my feet where I happened to stop on the path. I agree with jack that there are fewer bumblebees around this year.

As for competition, I'm sure it is there. Very true about limited access to food--and as other threads around here mention, we humans take what we have for granted.

All I can say is plant MORE native wildflowers...the more that is available the less energy will be required for searching for the few lone flowers or small flowerbeds most people have. My goal is to have mass quantities of native wildlfowers (and flowering shrubs) that will have a succession of bloom throughout the growing seasons. (I'm not there yet.)
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Old 07-18-2012, 10:24 PM   #9
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Not there yet, but a great goal to have! If we would end our obsession with lawns and replace them with native flower meadows/prairies, shrubs and trees it would be a tremendous help to our native pollinators.
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Old 07-18-2012, 11:48 PM   #10
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All I can say is plant MORE native wildflowers...the more that is available the less energy will be required for searching for the few lone flowers or small flowerbeds most people have. My goal is to have mass quantities of native wildlfowers (and flowering shrubs) that will have a succession of bloom throughout the growing seasons. (I'm not there yet.)
I agree that that is an excellent goal, and one that I share. My property is not that large, but with a profusion of blooms spring thru fall I hope to help local bumblebees. At least now in July my yard has many bumblebees throughout the day, always at least 5 in different spots, on monarda, anise hyssop, hypericum, among others. Interestingly, while I saw many honeybees back in June (when I also had an absence of bumbles), now I rarely see honeybees among my flowers.
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