A leaf cutter bee enters its nest drilled in a cedar plank. Leaf cutter bees are solitary but don't mind living close to other leaf cutters. Leaf cutter bees are important pollinators.
Old cedar planks drilled with rows of small holes lean against Jackie G.’s garage in a Kansas City suburb. Leaf cutter bees come and go from the holes, where they have built nests using bits of leaves and petals they have cut from nearby plants.
“I smile when I see the lacey edges,” Jackie says. “It means leaf cutter bees are in the garden.”
Despite the busy bee activity in the planks, very few of the nearby leaves and petals exhibit cut edges and none seem to be damaged very much. Mild-mannered leaf cutter bees are important pollinators, which is one reason Jackie, a master gardener, provides the drilled planks. Drill holes in untreated soft scrap or salvaged wood to make the bee condos. Jackie also volunteers with Monarch Watch, which is dedicated to education about and conservation and research of the Monarch butterfly and other pollinators. The link is in my blogroll on the right.
|| From Pollinator Partnership, link is in my blogroll on the right.
Pollinators need protection NOW
Declines in the health and population of pollinators in North America and globally pose what could be a significant threat to the integrity of biodiversity, to global food webs, and to human health. A number of pollinator species are at risk.
Pollinators are ESSENTIAL TO LIFE
At least 80% of our world’s crop plant species require pollination. Estimates as high as 1 out of every 3rd bite of food comes to us through the work of animal pollinators. Birds, bees, butterflies, and also bats, beetles and even mosquitos are among the myriad creatures which transfer pollen between seed plants. This function is vital for plant reproduction and food production.
One person who makes bee condos or nest blocks, etc., from reclaimed wood is “Andrew’s Reclaimed.” He makes Mason bee blocks, leaf cutter bee nest blocks, bat houses, elevated pet feeders, planter boxes and more, all from reclaimed wood. He found me on twitter. Somehow he knew I was a bee and butterfly nerd. Here’s a link to his shop: Andrew’s Reclaimed. He lives in the Seattle area, but the shipping costs don’t seem that bad. Even if you aren’t in the market for any of these items, it’s worth checking out his store, because he provides a lot of information.
These lacey edges show that leaf cutter bees have harvested part of the leaves to line their nests.
“Anna’s Bee World” post about Bee engineers.
Information about the Leaf Cutter Bee.
More information about Leaf Cutter bees.
Artsy Homes for Leaf Cutter Bees.
Old planks of untreated wood drilled with holes make great homes for leaf cutter bees.
- A crab spider grabbed a honey bee that visited a common milkweed flower.
This honey bee was lucky it didn't encounter any crab spiders hiding in the milkweed flowers.
In the Midwest, Master Gardener J. G. has planted a complete banquet for pollinating insects, such as bees and butterflies. There are plants for all stages in an insect’s life. One section of her garden is devoted to native prairie plants, such as the common milkweed, which has a wonderful fragrance and beautiful flowers. Monarch caterpillars are dependent on milkweed leaves and flowers for food, and other insects drink the nectar. The garden is a certified Monarch Watch monarch butterfly waystation that provides milkweed, nectar sources and shelter for monarchs as they migrate through North America.
J. G.'s garden is a certified Monarch Butterfly Waystation that provides plants for nectar, milkweed and shelter for migrating Monarch butterflies.
Honey bees were busy getting nectar and pollen in the milkweed flowers when we toured J.G.’s garden. One honey bee wasn’t so lucky. A crab spider grabbed it and paralyzed it for its own dinner. Crab spiders don’t spin webs but hide on plants, waiting for prey to visit.
It was a hot, humid day, and few butterflies appeared. J.G. called out the names of the few that passed through — fritillary, painted lady, skipper. I recognized a Monarch butterfly that flitted over the milkweed, settling just for a moment, before leaving.
To learn more about butterflies in the Kansas City area click on this links and do a search on butterflies: Johnson County Extension Office. Other useful links: Monarch Watch and look for Bug Girl’s Blog, Anna’s Bee World and Pollinator Partnership in my blog roll. If you’re buying from Amazon.com, use the Monarch Watch portal on my blogroll. I’ll be posting more about J.G’s garden, including her leaf cutter bee boxes.
A honey bee visits a rose blossom. You can see how closely these wild-looking roses resemble apple blossoms, members of the same family.
Filed under Biology, Butterflies, Conservation, Education, Entomology, Environment, Gardening, Insects, Kansas, Life, Natural History, Nature, Personal, Photography, Science, University of Kansas