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Archive for the ‘Bumblebees’ Category

Feeding the Bumblebees

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 9, 2009

Fireweed is at peak bloom. Anise hyssop is just starting to blossom. Abundant clover is a constant. All of these plants work together to supply food for bumblebees and that means that many bumblebees have a chance to overwinter on our farm. This picture of fireweed and Anise hyssop together tells the story.

Anise hyssop and fireweed

Anise hyssop and fireweed


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Sumac and bumblebees

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 12, 2009

The Sumac blossoms have just started to open. This is the first year I have noticed the bumblebees showing as much interest in Sumac.

Bumblebees enjoying Sumac blossoms

Bumblebees enjoying Sumac blossoms

A honeybee joins the feast.

A honeybee joins the feast.

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Gomer Waterer – a late Rhododendron

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 7, 2009

This late rhododendron is a big hit with the Bumblebees. It’s at full blossom now, just when the blueberry pollination is over. Gomer Waterer is a very reliable plant producing a profusion of blooms year after year.

Gomer Waterer Rhododendron

Gomer Waterer Rhododendron

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Weigela – a Bumblebee favorite

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 3, 2009

Weigela, like the Rhododendron, is more favoured by bumblebees than honeybees. It’s post blueberry timing makes it a desired shrub as a foraging source for bumblebees.

Weigela blossoms

Weigela blossoms

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Bumblebee foraging sources

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 1, 2009

The goal is to provide ample food sources for Bumblebees throughout the season. After the blueberries are pollinated there is Black Locust and clover as forage. Later the Anise hyssop will keep them going until fall. This should ensure a good number of Bumblebees for next season.

Bumblebee on clover

Bumblebee on clover

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Worker Bumblebees

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 27, 2009

The population of worker bumblebees seems to peak at about the time of the full bloom in the Elliott blueberry. These small bumblebees seem to rival the number of honeybees as you walk through the field. In a few days the honeybees will be distracted by the thornless blackberries so the bumblebees play an important role in pollination.

worker bumblebee

worker bumblebee

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Bumblebees and Anise Hyssop

Posted by blueberrytalk on July 21, 2008

More bumblebees are finding the Anise hyssop every day. It is important to provide foraging opportunities for the bumblebees so that there will be lots of bumblebees next spring. This is the time of year when there could be a shortage of nectar sources for the bumblebees.

Bumblebees prefer the Anise hyssop and Comfrey. Both of these plants should continue right through to the fall. Meanwhile the honeybees are foraging on blackberry and fireweed. Both of these plants last for several weeks. The honeybees are also on the clover which will last to the end of the season.

Here are some pictures of bumblebees enjoying Anise hyssop. Click on pictures to enlarge.


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Honeybees AWOL

Posted by blueberrytalk on June 15, 2008

Pollination is complete for most blueberries. The duke variety has fruit that is well formed. The Dukes pollinate well with most berries maturing to a good size. Click on pictures to enlarge.

               Duke blueberries.

Elliot blueberries are still showing a lot of blossom but the only pollinator on the Elliots are worker bumblebees.

            worker bumblebee Elliot blueberry  Worker bumblebee on Elliot flower.

Meanwhile the honeybees, instead of working the blueberries, are visiting  the clover and the blackberry blossoms.

             Italian bee visiting blackberry blossoms.

By now there are lots of bumblebee workers to pollinate the Elliot blueberries. If there are 100 bumblebee queens in April and if each queen can produce 50 workers then around this time in the season there could be 5000 workers to pick up the slack when the honeybees are enticed elsewhere.

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Comfrey and Bumblebees

Posted by blueberrytalk on May 23, 2008

The Comfrey is in bloom and it is the height of the blueberry blossom. Honey bees have lots to feed on and the bumblebee population is well below it’s peak so the Comfrey isn’t attracting many visitors. The Comfrey continues to bloom throughout the summer so it will become important later as a way of keeping bumblebees in the area. Bumblebees like Comfrey in the same way that honeybees like apple blossoms.


Click on pictures of Comfrey to enlarge.

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Posted by blueberrytalk on April 17, 2008

It takes some searching to find Mason bees at work. Honey bees are more numerous and larger so they are easy to see. But you don’t have to look for the Queen bumblebee. She finds you. And then she circles around you with a loud buzzing sound.

There will be no more Mason bees than the number at the beginning of the season. Any increase will show up next year. The honeybee colony can be expected to grow as pollination proceeds so the last berry blossoms will have higher bee intensity. The queen bumblebees that are around when the first blueberry blossums open will soon disappear. In their place will be many more worker bumblebees. These workers are partialy developed females that help the colony develop by supplying food for the larvae. The queen remains in the nest laying eggs and keeping them warm. The workers are smaller than the queen and go about their work without bothering to “buzz” humans. The number of workers approaching the end of the blueberry harvest can be quite amazing. In the field their numbers can rival the number of honeybees. On top of that, bumblebees are the number one pollinator with their ability to deposit many more grains of pollen.

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