Monday, July 28, 2014

Garden assistants

This bumblebee is on it's way to help pollinate my tomato plants. 

As an educator and spokesperson for native plants and pollinators, I always downplay the Sting Fear. Most native bees are solitary, not social, like European honeybees, so they don't typically sting…no hive to defend…solitary bees need to live another day to lay more eggs, not die while stinging you… While foraging, bees (and even wasps!) are usually too busy to sting yer *ss or any of your other body parts. Many stings from native bees occur when bees accidentally become trapped in clothes. I also just learned that many native bees' stingers are not strong enough to penetrate human flesh. 

Nevertheless, my foot found an insect that could pierce flesh on Saturday evening. Though it hurt just a little, it now itches madly.

Years ago, I was stung by a wasp (a guess) will doing field work. I was stung in the *ss. It felt like the most searing multiflora rose thorn I have ever known. And that's what I believed it was until I turned and saw a flying insect near my *ss. 

I worked a bit longer with my volunteer group, then decided to take it easy, and then asked everyone to head back to the parking lot. Within the next hour, my face and lips swelled and became pale. My palms itched. I felt woozy. I felt scared, too, but once I was back at the office I nibbled my lunch with a quiet volunteer. At least I could swallow.

Another time while doing field work, we must have stumbled on a bumblebee nest. A very irritated bumblebee flew into my face and clung onto my lower lip. I shrieked, dropped my pack, and ran. The bee followed and grabbed onto my lip again. The bee and I parted ways. My lower lip felt odd, not stung, but let's say, "touched by bee". 

This afternoon, Beren pointed out a bumblebee on a friend's driveway. I carefully picked it up and put it in the mulch. 

On another recent afternoon, I showed Beren that he could gently touch bumblebees while they forage in our garden. I'd rather he learn thoughtful awareness then the alternative:

"I've got these vines climbing on my fence with every bee known to man flying all over it. How do I get rid of them?" a male customer asked. The young sales clerk hopped up from behind the cash register, "We've got something for that." Another customer and I gaped at each other. 

Really? If you dislike bugs so much, pour some concrete and spread more grass seed.

Here's a tour of some goodies in our vegetable garden. The dill is hoppin' with flies, bees, and wasps. The wasps are almost too big for the dill. 








And last, though not a pollinator, some photographic evidence to defend the honor of potentially frightening bugs. An assassin bug species (by my best, novice identification) sucking the life juices out of a brown marmorated stinkbug. You know, wasps do good work in the garden, too.

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