Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pollinators 'a Plenty

There's this out of control pyracantha that's currently blooming like crazy -- which makes it more difficult to consider cutting back, because the robins love the red berries which will ripen this fall.

Right now the bush is very attractive, not just to me, but to a big batch of pollinators. Primarily bees. Surprisingly, I've only seen one or two butterflies.

I don't know what brand of bees my current visitors are. There's been a lot of press lately about the disappearing honey bee -- though this popular social insect is actually a European interloper in the American ecology, necessary, perhaps to pollinate our many imported food plants. However, entymologists have started looking into the use of native bees; 1000 species are found in the Tucson area alone, to give one example. Most are solitary insects, dwelling in holes in the ground or trees.

This guy I call the Darth Vader bee -- he's larger than the others and is dark, dark. Certainly no honey bee, he.

My real question is: when will those bees swarming my pyracantha come visit the little yellow blossoms on my recently planted tomato plants? If I'm really lucky, a specialist, tomato-loving bee will show up, but that would truly be unexpected!


Anonymous said...

Lots of different types of bees here. Large, small, etc. I find them interesting, but do keep my distance when taking a picture or two.

linda g said...

A few years ago there seemed to be a scarcity of bees, but last year there were plenty here.
We had only one pair of Monarch butterflies though. I hope they'll bounce back too.
Fresh tomatoes.........sigh

Biby Cletus said...

Nice post, its a really cool blog that you have here, keep up the good work, will be back.

Warm Regards

Biby Cletus - Blog

catalyst said...

We had pyracantha bushes in Phoenix some years ago. I used to love to watch the birds eat the berries and then stagger around the yard drunk.

Granny J said...

Steve -- the entymology bulletin suggests that you need worry about the social bees only -- most bees are solitary dwellers & don't have a colony to protect.

Linda -- I recall that two years ago, there weren't any apples on the scrubby little neighborhood trees; this year, my apricot trees were swarming with bees, though the winds and the weather have done in any hopes I had for fruit, of course. Hence the tomatoes.

Thanks, Bilby -- I'm looking for your return.

Mr. Cat-A. I've heard about robins getting drunk on those berries, but I've yet to see it. Would make a great picture! Good to see you're recovering from your recent bout in the hospital.

Desert Cat said...

I have heard that the "killer bees" are not as suceptible to whatever is wiping out domesticated colonies. And we have plenty of these in Tucson.

As for the tomatoes, I'm pretty sure they're self-pollinating. I've grown them indoors quite successfully with no bees.

Granny J said...

DC-- the article I linked to talked about a tomato loving critter whose vibrations caused the fruit to be a lot bigger! I would suspect that the bee in question specializes in all those various members of the nightshade family.

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