Here Come the Bees
Spring is here, and Honey Bees may be too. Frequently we hear about stories of stinging insects during spring and summer, there’s nothing to worry about—unlike yellowjackets (which also nest in the ground, but only in the FALL, never in the Spring) these bees are very gentle. The males can’t sting. (That’s why male bumblebees—another Native bee—act so menacing sometimes; the best those guys could do is head-butt you.) The females could sting, but being women, know better. (That’s probably why the guys DIDN’T get stingers.) You’d have to grab one to get stung. And even then, you’d have to grab a female.
Dr. Terry Griswold, a research entomologist at the USDA’s Logan Bee Labat Utah State University (http://www.loganbeelab.usu.edu/) says that a number of Native bees look a lot like flies, including at least one ‘gregarious’ species that’s active very early in the Spring. I think I know these guys! Just last week I had a lot of bees that looked a lot like flies paying a huge amount of attention to the pussy willow I deliberately planted smack dab in the middle of my garden to attract pollinators.
And that’s the BIG reason to leave these great bees alone—they are far better pollinators of food plants and flowers than the imported honeybee (a European immigrant; NOT a Native bee). Natives fly earlier in the season, work longer hours and aren’t afflicted by the numerous pests and diseases that attack honeybee colonies. And they’re better pollinators in general, greatly increasing the number of flowers on your ornamentals and the quality of your food crops—especially those fruit trees!
So do nothing. The bees are really active because they’re nest-building right now. They’ll soon settle down and virtually disappear—except for when you spy them visiting your plants and improving your garden’s floweriferisness. Just wear sandals or flip-flops when you’re outdoors during their active times in case you should accidentally step on one.
And if you decide these gentle bees are not welcome next year, put in a nice thick lawn! They only build their little nests in bare ground or turf that’s in terrible shape.
If you notice more bee activity in your yard than you’d like or a hive, please give us a call.