The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


November’s Featured Bee

Only one month left and I do hope you were inspired by the monthly featured bee posts throughout the year. Growing up I thought there were bees (honey), and bumble bees so I certainly enjoyed and learned from this calendar, and will most likely purchase another. It is also offered through the Xerces Society, but you must place your order by November 30. It would make a great gift for any gardener.

The month of November in my North American Native Bee Calendar purchased from the Great Sunflower Project, features the Sweat Bee, genus Halictus.

Sweat bees emerge in early spring and throughout the summer. They may produce several generations of offspring throughout season. They nest in the ground. Unlike Carpenter Bees, these bees are very small – some less than a 1/4 inch! They are slender and typically have light colored banding. Sweat bees are attracted to human perspiration, thus their common name. They are true generalists and visit a wide range of flowers for pollen and nectar. I think I have seen these bees in my garden – tiny, tiny – and have stopped to admire them. Someday I do hope to have my own positively identified photos, but for now click here to view images of Sweat Bees. (Control or apple click to open the images in a new tab or window).

Favorite pollen and nectar sources of Sweat Bees include eriogonum (buckwheat), erigeron (fleabane), grindelia (gumweed), cosmos, coreopsis (tickweed).

I am including this image of fleabane from a previous post because you may have learned this is a weed. Now that you know, save a spot for this plant in your garden and see if you might spot a Sweat Bee.

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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!


May’s Featured Bee

The month of May in my North American Native Bee Calendar purchased from the Great Sunflower Project, features the Green Bee – Ultra Green Sweat Bee to be exact, genus Agapostemon. They emerge in early spring through summer and nest in the ground.

Green bees are small and slender. Females are entirely bright green. The males have a bright green thorax and yellow and black striped abdomen. They mate in late summer, early fall and the pregnant females hibernate over the winter. They then begin a new nest in spring for their young.

You might spot a green bee in your garden if you grow the following: grindelia (gumweed), erigeron (fleabane), coreopsis (tickseed), and cosmos.

I spotted this green bee in my Maine garden where I did have many cosmos and coreopsis, although he is perched on a cone flower. I did spy one last summer in my garden here but of course, did not have my camera. They are so striking and hard to miss. I hope to see more this year.

 An update on my mason bee house. You can see the holes are filling up and plugged with mud.