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Oh those leafcutter bees!

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Blog Posts | 7 comments

A Garden Mystery Solved (previously published in the Green Valley News and Sahuarita Sun – reprinted with permission) Every spring in the Sonoran Desert a new crop of gardeners ponders the mystery. Someone or something is leaving the foliage of flowering plants in a lacy tatter. Perfect semicircles are cut from the leaves of blue plumbago, yellow bells, bouganvillea and others. Some leaves have more than one missing piece. According to Pima County Extension Master Gardener, Ted Cline, the culprit is the leafcutter bee. Unlike the honeybee that originally came from Europe and now often interbreeds with aggressive African bees, the leafcutter bee is a native species. This small bee doesn’t live in a hive like the honeybee. The leafcutter bee lives a solitary life. The leafcutter female spends much of her time collecting pollen and nectar to feed...

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Oh those leafcutter bees!

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Blog Posts | 9 comments

A Garden Mystery Solved (previously published in the Green Valley News and Sahuarita Sun – reprinted with permission) Every spring in the Sonoran Desert a new crop of gardeners ponders the mystery. Someone or something is leaving the foliage of flowering plants in a lacy tatter. Perfect semicircles are cut from the leaves of blue plumbago, yellow bells, bouganvillea and others. Some leaves have more than one missing piece. According to Pima County Extension Master Gardener, Ted Cline, the culprit is the leafcutter bee. Unlike the honeybee that originally came from Europe and now often interbreeds with aggressive African bees, the leafcutter bee is a native species. This small bee doesn’t live in a hive like the honeybee. The leafcutter bee lives a solitary life. The leafcutter female spends much of her time collecting pollen and nectar to feed...

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To Bee or Not to Bee: The Science of Swarming

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

It’s Swarm! It’s spring in the Sonoran Desert. The blooms of the hedgehog and prickly pear cactus have burst out of their spiny cocoons, adding splashes of color to the desert. The gray and red pyrrhuloxia, invisible within the burgeoning foliage of the mesquite, pleads “sweet, sweetie, sweetie.” Out of the corner of my eye I catch a burst of frenetic movement, like a school of small fish swirling in the air. Looking closely I see hundreds, no thousands of bees circling a low-hanging mesquite branch. The swarm congeals around the branch and comes to rest. A dark, seething mass of bees, about the size of a basketball, is hanging like a hammock a few feet from my window. _________ The honey bee, Apis mellifera, lives a complex, social existence. Divided into three groups, workers (sexually undeveloped females), drones (male...

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To Bee or Not to Bee: The Science of Swarming

Posted by on Apr 15, 2015 in Blog Posts | 0 comments

It’s Swarm! It’s spring in the Sonoran Desert. The blooms of the hedgehog and prickly pear cactus have burst out of their spiny cocoons, adding splashes of color to the desert. The gray and red pyrrhuloxia, invisible within the burgeoning foliage of the mesquite, pleads “sweet, sweetie, sweetie.” Out of the corner of my eye I catch a burst of frenetic movement, like a school of small fish swirling in the air. Looking closely I see hundreds, no thousands of bees circling a low-hanging mesquite branch. The swarm congeals around the branch and comes to rest. A dark, seething mass of bees, about the size of a basketball, is hanging like a hammock a few feet from my window. _________ The honey bee, Apis mellifera, lives a complex, social existence. Divided into three groups, workers (sexually undeveloped females), drones (male...

Read More