The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


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December’s Featured Bee

Last but not least, for the month of December the 2010 North American Native Bee Calendar features the Cuckoo Bee, genus Nomada.

Cuckoo Bees emerge in spring and early summer. Bees of this species are cleptoparasites – meaning they lay their eggs in the nests of other bees. Their offspring will then feed off the provisions that were stored and provided for their hosts. Females will hunt for, and detect the specific scent of, ground nesting Andrena species. Because females do not have to forage for their own young, they lack specialized hairs for carrying pollen and are most likely seen flying along the ground hunting for potential host nests.

Cuckoo bees are small bees with a thick cuticle to withstand attack from their hosts. They often have wasp-like features and coloring. Newly hatched larvae have specially shaped jaws for destroying their hosts.

To view images of Cuckoo Bees, click here. (Control or apple click to open the images in a new tab or window).

Favorite nectar sources of Cuckoo Bees include erigeron (fleabane) and grindelia (gumweed).

There you have it – a year’s worth of native North American bees. Hope you enjoyed.

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October Buzzed By …

… and I didn’t get a chance to post October’s featured bee. The month of October in my North American Native Bee Calendar purchased from the Great Sunflower Project, features the Large Carpenter Bee, genus Xylocopa.

These bees are large, often over an inch, and I definitely have these in my garden. You can’t miss them if they buzz by (like October). They are typically black. I’ve seen these bees mating and also buzzing around my shed (made from rough hewn lumber) which makes sense since they are wood nesting bees. The female will use her jaws to excavate a nest tunnel in soft or rotten wood. These bees are known to “rob” nectar, too, by excavating a hole at the base of a flower. Males may put on an “air show” of darting and swooping flight patterns near flowers where females are attracted. To view images of the Carpenter Bee, click here. (Control or apple click to open the images in a new tab or window).

You might attract a Carpenter Bee if you grow salvia, Cercis (Redbud), lavender or wisteria.


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September’s Featured Bee

The month of September in my North American Native Bee Calendar purchased from the Great Sunflower Project, features the Longhorn Bee, genus Melissodes.

These bees emerge in late summer and nest in the ground. They are small to medium sized with golden brown hairs over much of their bodies. Both sexes have a fuzzy thorax and noticeably hairy legs. The males are smaller than the females and have particularly long antennae. To view images of Longhorned Bees click here.

Many plants of the Asteraceae family, such as sunflowers, are highly dependent upon these bees for cross pollination.

You might spot a Longhorn Bee if you grow cosmos, blanketflowers, sunflowers, tickseed and beggarticks (Bidens).

In June I featured the Leafcutter Bee. Some of you said you see evidence of Leafcutters on your roses. Well, I just noticed this myself on my swamp rose!