Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Stick Cheesy "Bee" Play on Words Here

With many thanks to Larner Seeds, I am happy to have finally found a book regarding the preservation of California native bees: the Pollinator Conservation Handbook. The Xerxes Society and The Bee Works teamed up to help out us gardeners who aren't fluent in entomologese. Sure, it's an instructional book, but it's quite entertaining- explaining (almost) all you need to know to begin your pollinator crusade. It introduces the unique characteristics of our local pollinators and explains what habitats they require. And because it focuses on all native pollinators, it can quickly make a bee geek into a beetle nerd. After reading this book, I impulsively purchased three insect identification books and I'm endlessly spouting off my new knowledge, audience or no. Did you know that most native bees live in the soil? (all I hear are crickets...)
My only burning question after completing the book relates to the question of mulch vs. bee habitat. Mulch is a miracle worker in the garden, conserving water, supressing weeds and slowly enriching the soil as it breaks down. However, the ground that you're covering is also critical bee habitat. Oh, the dilemma! I found an article in the latest issue of Bay Nature that suggests leaving 50% of your garden bare and the remaining mulched. It's a place to start, however my last month of pulling weeds has informed me that most folks want to mimimize that sort of thing entirely. (If I had done it before they all flowered and spread themselves throughout the greater Oakland area, my job wouldn't have been nearly as difficult, but I digress...) I'm sure there's a more nuanced solution out there- any suggestions?

The photo shows my newest, favoritest bee at the moment: the black carpenter bee.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the info! Sounds like a great book, I'll have to order one!