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A Season of Bees

As fall weather pushes the final blooming flowers into senescence, we can now reflect on the previous season. Native habitat gardens are dynamic, with ephemeral flowers asserting themselves for a mere weeks before fading into the underlying matrix of grasses and sedges. Along with those flowers come the insects that utilize them.


Here is the season of native habitat gardens from the perspective of bees (seen in and around Omaha, Nebraska). This is a collection of my favorite photos of urban bees from the past season. Notice how some bee species extend throughout the bloom period of multiple flower species, while some bee species are only seen for a short period. These photos are not an exhaustive catalog of all the species I observed in the Omaha area this season, just simply the photos I most enjoy.


April

An early blooming species, Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry), and an early bee visitor, Lasioglossum sp., as seen in a late April native habitat garden in Omaha, Nebraska.

May


In May, Lasioglossum sp. can be found foraging on the blooms of Zizia aurea (golden alexander)

By mid May, cuckoo bees such as this Nomada sp. begin to emerge. They can often be seen nectaring on Zizia.

Tiny carpenter bees in the genus Ceratina buzz about on even the cooler May mornings. This individual flies towards the blooms in a field of wild geranium (Geranium maculatum).

Toward the end of May, Heuchera richardsonii begins to bloom. Here, the orange pollen is gathered by a Lasioglossum sp. sweat bee.

Mid-late May blooms of spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) supports the foraging of a Lasioglossum sp. sweat bee.

June


In early June, primrose (Oenthera macrocarpa) begins to bloom. It blooms in the evening and through the night. In the mornings, bees such as this Agopostemon viriscens forage on pollen before the flower closes up.

My mid-June, prairie plants in the urban native garden come alive. Here, a Lasioglossum sp. bee feeds on Dalea purpurea (purple prairie clover).

In June, I start to see some of my favorite little bees: those of the genus Hylaeus (the masked bees). This one is peering over the flowers of Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master).

Towards the end of June, milkweed begins to bloom. Here, wool carder bees join for a brief moment to mate on butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).

By late June, Silphium starts to bloom. This genus (and the sunflowers in the genus Helianthus) are favored by Melissodes sp. bees, like the one seen here.

Silphium blooms feel like the midst of summer. And nothing feels more like a summer in an urban prairie than a Melissodes bee loaded with pollen flying towards a bloom of Silphium.

Late Summer (August-September)



Bumble bees (Bombus sp.) nectar on the blooms of Rudbeckia laciniata.

A Halictus sp. sweat bee perches on the lingering blooms of Eryngium yuccifolium (rattlesnake master).

A Megachile sp. bee rests among the ethereal blooms of Joe-pye weed.

A Halictus sp. sweat bee loads up with pollen from Rudbeckia laciniata (wild golden glow).

As the angle of light begins to lower in late summer, the foraging time of bumble bees is shortened. This one flies towards the last blooms of Silphium integrifolium as the sun sets.

The squash cuckoo bee (Triepeolus remigatus) clings to a lingering petal of Echinacea purpurea.

Late season Halictus bees always seem to be loaded with pollen. It is almost like they are preparing for winter, like in the story of the ant and the grasshopper.

A bumble bee (Bombus sp.) sucks nectar from Rudbeckia laciniata while pollen sticks to its furry legs.

October


As freezes kill off the last of the blooms, the last lingering male bumblebees are left to wait out the season. This individual is finding some resources in native sky blue aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense).

If you want to see more photos, check out the photo gallery.


Want to experience the seasons by watching bees, like this? Design and implement your own native habitat garden. See the following links for resources (especially for those in Nebraska):


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