Friday, June 5, 2009

Blackberry Bees

Blackberry Flowers with Honey Bee (May 21, 2009)

I have been keeping notes on where my honey bees forage. I found a few of them at a time on my blackberry patch in the yard. I noticed the bees stay a long time--maybe a minute--on a flower. I wondered if that is how they are picking up the varroa mites.

Black Bees on Blackberry Blossoms (May 21, 2009)

On the blackberries, honey bees forage right along side the native bees which outnumber them by about 10:1 most times I have observed. These black bees are about the size of the honey bees. Like the other native bees, they forage quickly. For the entomologists, please identify these for me.

Carpenter Bee on Blackberry (May 21, 2009)

The large Carpenter Bee seems to pollinate every flower in my yard. About this time, I noticed this and other native bees on my Rhododendron shrubs but no honey bees. Then, I read several accounts that the blossoms of the Catawba Rhododendron blossom have toxic nectar so I was glad they didn't forage on them.

Other Native Bees (May 21, 2009)

These unknown bees were also prolific on the blackberries, flying quickly from flower to flower. The small one is about the size of a sweat bee while the larger one is about the size of a honey bee only slimmer (or is it a wasp?).

Today, I see that there's a berry growing where each flower was so these pollinators were quite effective!

I found a great slide presentation "Native Bee Pollinators" given recently by Nancy Adamson of Virginia Tech. Gardeners and farmers alike will find good tips on pollinating their crops.

The presentation made me quite aware of where the native bees are nesting in my yard. The other day, I was putting up a trellis and noticed that the black bees shown in the the second photograph were flying in and out under a big rock at the edge of the flower bed. I didn't look under the rock but guess that's where they're living.

Bumble bees are nesting in my clay birdhouse on the front porch. It's usually occupied by Carolina Wrens but they are nesting on the other side of the porch in an A-frame birdhouse. To make a good nesting site for bumble bees you can use an empty clay flower pot--on its side with the flower end covered so that the bees will use the small hole in the bottom as an entrance.


  1. Wonderful to study your honeybees and where they go. I'll bet blackberry honey would be really good. Of course, no honey will replace sourwood for me.

  2. NCmountainwoman--I am looking forward to getting a little sourwood honey myself. We have lots of those trees on our land.

  3. I'm partial to orange blossom honey..but would love to try them both.

  4. Do you think the bee you are trying to identify is a mason orchard bee? I love your blog. Very informative. Your pictures are also great.

  5. Carol--don't think I've had orange blossom honey but it sounds great. Guess that's a Florida honey.

  6. Lisa--I think you might be right about the mason orchard bee. I looked at some photos and they look a lot like my photo. But, unlike flowers and trees, I really don't know how to key out insects. Still learning. Thanks for the note!

  7. love the photos . . . isn't bad that when I see blackberry . . I think of my cellphone!