Even Our Small Garden Can Help Native Bees!

25 Aug

Veteran gardener (and tart maker) Deb  has blessed me with all kinds of wisdom over the past couple of years.  Most recently, she educated me about bees.  We had noticed some bizarrely round holes cut into the small persimmon tree we got from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at its plant give-away in May, and we wondered what new “pest” had started visiting our garden and how we would deal with it.

Well, it turns out it’s not a pest at all, but almost certainly a leaf cutter bee (see its handiwork from a few years back in Brooklyn).  According to our Bushwick expert, leaf cutter bees are native and important pollinators.  They  cut the leaf bits out and use them to form “net cells” (whatever those are) — usually, with no permanent damage to the host plant.

Bee on Squash Blossom

Learning we had this odd species of bee in our garden made me wonder what other species we might be hosting.  Evidence points to most being the common eastern bumble bee (Bombus impatiens), but apparently more than 50 bee species have been documented in NYC community gardens, including 5 species of bumble bee (as discussed in this paper at page 2).  The bees are essential to pollination of our squash and pumpkins (so I was glad to see one — pictured here — digging into one of our squash blossoms!).

They’re also of great importance to cucumbers, modest importance to strawberries, and little importance to tomatoes and beans (as noted in this paper at Table 1 on page 6).  Perhaps why we have such great luck with our cucumbers?  But they also seem to like our tomato blossoms, and the strawberries and beans are doing wonderfully, too.

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One Response to “Even Our Small Garden Can Help Native Bees!”

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  1. Is This A Pupa? A Butterfly That Overwintered On Milkweed? | Concord Village EarthLab - March 18, 2018

    […] stories: Plants In Our Butterfly-Friendly Garden ; June 2013 Caterpillar Spottings; Even Our Small Garden Can Help Native Bees! ; Monarch Butterfly Plants In Our […]

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