Solitary Bees of Springtime

by Andrea Laine, EMGV

Say ‘bee’ and many of us think bumble or honey. But at this time of year we are apt to see ground-nesting bees out and about our landscapes, visiting the same early spring flowering plants that a honey bee might pollinate.

Ground-nesting bees are native solitary bees that nest individually in polyester-lined tunnels or burrows at least six inches deep in warm, dry ground. Reflective of this behavior, they are also called mining bees or digging bees. They are more likely to nest in areas with exposed soil and sparse vegetation, not dense turf or mulched beds.

MiningBee_M.Bertone
There are many species of bees that nest in the ground and they range in size and color. Pictured here is an adult mining bee. Photo by M. Bertone. 

 

TBilleisen ground bee damage
Evidence of ground nests can resemble tiny ant hills. Photo by T. Billeisen.

A hospitable patch of ground is likely to house a number of solitary tunnels, thus giving the impression at times of a small swarm of low-flying bees. But these bees are not aggressive as they are not defending a hive (as honeybees and bumblebees would be). And, as is the case with all bees, males cannot sting.

For two to four weeks in mid to late spring, females collect pollen and nectar to bring back to the nest. With it they form a ball in the side of the tunnel. They lay a single egg on the ball and when it hatches, the larva feeds on the pollen and continues to develop until the following spring when it emerges from the ground as an adult bee and goes forth to build a new nest.

Solitary bees are beneficial insects: They pollinate plants and their burrowing behavior is hardly noticeable and does no damage. On the contrary, it helps aerate the soil.

 

Sources & Further Reading

Matthew Bertone, Plants, Pests and Pathogens, Feb 26, 2019

https://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/insects/bees-in-turf/

https://caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu/2014/06/ground-digging-bees/

http://www.gardening-for-wildlife.com/ground-bees.html

 

 

Learn With Us, Week of July 22

Rain Gardens 
Sunday, July 22, 3:00 – 4:00pm
Durham County Library – North Regional Library
221 Milton Rd, Durham, NC 27712
Description:A rain garden allows water to percolate down into the ground slowly, recharging your ground water and minimizing the amount of soil and fertilizer that would otherwise be lost through runoff. Explore the beauty and functionality of rain gardens with Extension Master Gardener Volunteers Georganne Sebastian and Darcey Martin. They will discuss the where, why, and wow of water conservation through residential rain gardens.

North Regional Library, 221 Milton Road, Durham, NC 27712 3:00-4:00pm
Classes are free. Registration is required.

Register with Pana Jones, EMGV Coordinator via email at prjones2@ncsu.edu or call her at 919 560-0521.

Durham Garden Forum Gardener’s Fair
Tuesday, July 24, 6:30 – 8:00pm
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708
Description:2018 Gardener’s Fair, Durham Garden Forum
Featuring area  Experts and garden suppliers

Exhibits Include:
Products and Plants
Amendments and composting
Maintenance strategies and products
And more
Breakout Demonstrations:
Pruning
Propagation
Decorating with succulents

This is a free event.
No pre-registration necessary. Free parking after 5:00 pm
When: July 24, 2018 (Tuesday)
Where: Sarah P. Duke Gardens, 420 Anderson Street, Durham, NC, Doris Duke Center
Contact: durhamgardenforum@gmail.com

Perennials and Pollinators 
Thursday, July 26, 2:00 – 3:00pm
Durham County Library – North Regional Library
221 Milton Rd, Durham, NC 27712
Description:Perennials, Pollinators and Color
Chris Apple, Durham County Extension Master Gardener Volunteer will discuss with you how perennials can attract pollinators to our gardens and investigate how we can use those perennials to interject color or interest into our gardens throughout the year.

North Regional Library, 221 Milton Road, Durham, NC 27712 2:00-3:00pm
Classes are free. Registration is required.

Register with Pana Jones, EMGV Coordinator via email at prjones2@ncsu.edu or call her at 919 560-0521.

Learn With Us, Week of June 17

Native Plants – Durham Garden Forum
Tuesday, June 19, 6:30pm – 8:00pm
Sarah P. Duke Gardens
420 Anderson St, Durham, NC 27708

What are the reasons to promote the use of native plants? Is it actually a useful concept since none of us is traveling back in time to 1940? Join us for a panel discussion with many viewpoints to help us all sort out the native vs. exotic debate.

Presented by: A panel discussion with local experts Lecture Fee: Forum Members Free with $25.00 Annual Membership. $10.00 fee per class for Non-Members, payable to Durham Garden Forum No pre-registration necessary. Free parking after 5:00 pm

Pollinator Day
Friday, June 22, 9:00am – 2:00pm
Museum of Life and Science
433 W Murray Ave, Durham, NC 27704

Description: As part of National Pollinator Week, museum guests are invited to participate in hands-on experiments while learning about importance of honey-bees, native plants, and other vital contributions to the pollination process. Activities will take place outside of the Butterfly House – throughout the gardens, on the plaza and in the Lab on the 2nd floor of the main building.

Learn With Us, June 18 – June 24

Durham Garden Forum Tuesday, June 20 from 6:30-8:00 PM at the Doris Duke Center, Sarah P. Duke Gardens. There is no charge for parking.

Our topic this month is “Sustainable Turf Strategies” presented by Grady Miller, Professor, Crop and Soil Sciences, North Carolina State University. Turf functions in many ways to provide open space, pathways and creating a frame that many people enjoy. Sustainable turf strategies begin with selecting the best grass for your location and then managing the turf to reduce water and chemical use while maintaining the health of the yard and reducing organic yard waste. Grady will give us an update on a variety of sustainable practices.

We had another active Member Plant Giveaway Table in May and will continue with this feature in June. Please remember to bring your plant is some form of container, label if possible and remove at the end of the evening if it has not been taken.

Lecture fee: $10 per meeting for non-members. Forum members free with $25 annual membership, payable to Durham Garden Forum.
(919) 668-1707
– See more at: https://www.durham-nc.com/includes/calendar-of-events/Durham-Garden-Forum-Sustainable-Turf-Strategies/86108/#sthash.PjNpDjYO.dpuf

Durham Pollinator Garden Tour, June 24, 9:00 -1:00.  http://keepdurhambeautiful.org/our-events/durhampollinatorgardentour/

 

dpgt flyer

Learn With Us, week of May 1

Gardening for Pollinators
Sat 5/6 10am – 11:30am
For Garden’s Sake Nursery, 9197 NC Hwy 751, Durham, NC

Pollinators are vital to life on Earth and yet go largely unnoticed. The ecological service they provide is necessary for the reproduction of about 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including 2/3 of the world’s crop species. Not to mention the whimsy they bring to your garden! So get to know the pollinators in your environment by joining Darcey Martin and Georganne Sebastian – Durham County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers – to learn what all the buzz is about!
Free/Registration required
To register, email ann@fgsnursery.com or call 919-484-9759