When I first began keeping bees (almost ten years ago) I also began taking more notice of the diversity of native bees that visited our yard, especially the extremely photogenic bombus. What was frustrating is that it was very difficult to ID the bees, and there was no North American guide to bumblebees available.
Xerces society offers handy pocket ID charts as well as these information packed guides for Western and Eastern United States (free pdf downloads).
News Flash: Princeton Press just released the first comprehensive guide to all 46 North American bumble bees. It's jam-packed with color photos (of live bees too! not just bees on pins), color pattern variation diagrams, distribution maps, taxonomy, and latest molecular research. The introduction includes photos of insects who mimic bumble bees, habitat and foraging facts, and how to use the guide.
Bumble Bees of North America is a wonderful resource for all backyard beepeekers and gardeners.
100 Days of Honey:
Elizabeth Gowing, a beekeeper currently residing in the UK, included our Seattle honey in her 100 days of honey-tasting blog and adventure. She enjoyed our urban cut-comb honey and stated that "Eating honey from the comb is a different experience from eating strained honey...And it tastes fabulous. The nose is of stone fruits – plum or apricot, with a sting of citrus. The taste is more berries – ripe blackberries or cherries."
Elizabeth Gowing is also the author Travels in Blood and Honey which chronicles her adventures in beekeeping while living in Kosovo.
Ju bëftë mirë!
Xmas reading fun facts: it's estimated that arthropods outnumber humans by as much as 250 million to 1; arthropods collectively comprise over 80% of the total biomass of the terrestrial animals combined! Although small in size, mites and springtails are the most abundant kinds of animal life on the planet (Bugs Rule! 2013, p.3)
Speaking of springtails, I caught a couple of these little guys last February, which resulted in a post on Rusty Burlew's Honey Bee Suite post: "What's hopping on my bottom board?"
Bugs do all kinds of things to keep the earth functioning: pollination, recycling, soil formation, maintain plant communities, and as part of the food chain. Go Bugs!
Have yourself a merry little xmas...
and be sure to take a visit to the UW Center for Urban Horticulture and the Elisabeth Miller Library:
Looking for inspiration for your balcony pots, your little backyard, roof, or neighborhood empty lot?
I recommend "The Rurbanite", by UK Alex Mitchell;
one of their new arrivals.