april 4, Leave some naked places…

Fuzzy ground-nesting Colletes inequalis female bearing pollen to her nest

in your lawn…


A moment later she disappeared into her nest hole

…for native bees.


What are you willing to do for native bees? Of course you’d be happy to plant lots of beautiful native plants for nectar and pollen. But how about allowing some of your yard to look like the pic below? (Ant hills these are not).


On the front lawn of the Louisville Nature Center, under the blooming purple redbud tree, lives a city of ground nesting bees (above pic). The tree’s shade has suppressed the growth of grass, making it ideal for burrowing. Most of the hundreds of bees appear to be cute, fuzzy Colletes inequalis, the “polyester bee”. (If you want to know the reason for it’s name, google this great article – “Washington post, Polyester bee: born in a plastic bag”).

The half-inch long females have each dug their very own vertical tunnel to an amazing one and a half foot depth, and are busy installing nest chambers in the walls. Plenty of males are hanging around, mating with the females. There is continual traffic back and forth from the redbud tree and a nearby blooming Serviceberry bush (that always bears an amazing abundance of fruit). It’s a busy, cheerful scene – the kind that unfortunately would send some folks running for the pesticide spray.

It’s our loss if they do, since many native bees are more effective pollinators than honeybees. They’ll only be visible and busy for a few short weeks in early spring – by mid April these tiny bees will be literally worn out and tattered, having accomplished the goal of creating the next generation.

So, are you ready to prepare a place for native bees in your yard? If you neglect your lawn as much as I do, you may have nesting ground bees already – most any patch of dry bare dirt will do.

Close- up of Colletes nests at the LNC. The opening are wider than those of ant colonies

If you’re lucky, you may then see a sight like this (pic below). The air is alive with hundreds of tiny bees swarming around this Serviceberry bush.


More bees you might see…


This beauty (likely a Halictus), observed in our forest on Round leaved ragwort (Packera obovatus), might be confused with a Yellowjacket wasp if it were not so tiny.


“Pure green magnificent bee”, Augochlora pura, our friend from the previous post.

These lovely little ground nesting bees, and many more like them, can help pollinate your flowers, your berry bushes, your garden vegetables.  All they need is a naked place in your lawn!








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