The Hungry Honeybee: A Children’s Book

the-hungry-honeybee-cover

My book is finally up for sale on Amazon!  I wrote and illustrated this children’s book with educating youth about how to care for bees in mind.  It is written for preschool up through elementary age groups, and it comes with a substantial packet of wildflower seeds fit to feed a multitude of pollinators! Kids will get a kick out of this gift set.  Follow this link to get yours today!  If you’d like to help us rank well on Amazon, first go to Amazon, then type in The Hungry Honeybee in the search browser, and then my book will pop up for you to click on.  This helps us get more exposure on Amazon, and I do thank you in advance for doing it this way, as it takes a little more of your time:)  I hope you enjoy it!!

Cheers to the movement to save our bees!

Jessica

 

 

Native Bee Observation House Fun!

img_3450

Our new bee house had many nesters across the US this year, and we enjoyed receiving pictures from many of you who joined in on the fun!

Isodontia: The Grass Carrying Solitary Wasp

img_4159

This lovely wasp often thought our house was the perfect nesting site for her young.  This species of wasp uses grass to partition between egg cells, and she collects insects for her young to feed on once they hatch from their eggs.  Wasps are not always aggressive, just as bees are not always aggressive.  Isodontia is a solitary nester, which means she flies solo on all tasks related to raising her young.  For this reason, she is less likely to feel defensive, as her nest contains a few young developing in a row, protected inside a tube structure, rather than open to the world as the paper wasp chooses to nest.

img_4803

Many of this house’s rows are filled in with Isodontia rows.  The grass is pretty obvious, and the green pieces you see are insects waiting to be devoured by the Isodontia larva.  The white fuzzy stuff is the cocoon of the maturing adult.  Isodontia can have many generations from spring to fall, so the top rows in this house are representative of this fact.  The take home message here is, wasps aren’t all bad, in fact they are the best biological control of pest insects.  For more on this fascinating species of wasps, click here.

img_4804

Osmia: Mason Bees as Residents

img_3390IMG_0169img_4806

Mason bees are also cavity nesting bees, and they found this house quite suitable in various locations across the US! They use mud to partition between egg cells, as is shown in this photo above.

img_5064

By the end of the summer each partition contains a cocoon, such as the ones in the photo above, each of which containing a hibernating adult destined to emerge next spring.  For more on the Mason Bee, click here.

Megachile: Leafcutter Residents

img_4447img_4116

Leafcutter bees get their name from using half-moon shaped cuts out of broad leafed plants to fashion the perfectly, fairy-like, egg cell.  Follow this link for more about the leafcutter bee.

fullsizerenderIMG_2066

Inside this leafy package is a ball of nectar and pollen collected by mother leafcutter bee to feed her developing young.  Once these bees develop into adulthood, they hibernate until the following summer, when they will emerge and repeat the entire process all over again.

Thank you to all who submitted photos to us this year!  We are looking forward to many more adventures with you.

We created a special edition for the holidays this year! Did you know holly berries are first flowers that are pollinated by bees to become berries?

img_2921

You can get your own native bee house, holiday edition or just the standard one, by clicking here.

Thank you for joining the movement!

Jessica

‘Tis A Season of Rescues

IMG_2425

Above is me with the swarm I helped rescue from a tree.  It was the size of a soccer ball! They are now two brood boxes deep, and I’ll be looking to add a super soon.

I have had a fun season of bee rescues this year! It all began with a swarm of honeybees early June.  These ladies are enjoying their new home, and I am enjoying watching them make “bee lines” to and from the hive.  

IMG_4060

Above is the first bumblebee colony I rescued.  There are currently six young sisters in this colony.  It was a very small colony to begin with (2-3″ in diameter).

July brought two bumblebee colony rescues. One colony thought it appropriate to set up shop inside a chicken coop, and the queen paid the price for that choice, but the small colony is happily residing in a small breadbox in my backyard!

IMG_4065IMG_4068

Above is the second bumblebee colony I rescued; a much larger colony than the first (14″ long x 6″ wide).  The box is the new luxury apartment we built for them the night we rescued them. 

The second bumblebee rescue was from the crawlspace of a townhouse! It was dark, and riddled with spiders, some of which had bumblebees entangled in their webs! This colony was often lost trying to find their way to the outdoors to forage, and would end up inside the townhouse, destined to starve to death, very sad.  It easily has 100 bumblebees!  This colony is now in a luxury apartment in my backyard, surrounded by lots of different types of flowers. They seem quite happy, and I am happy to have them in a safer place! I know I will have tomatoes this year thanks to these buzz pollinating geniuses!  Here’s a link to the video of the latest bumblebee colony I rescued.

Thank you for joining the movement to learn more about bees!

 

 

 

My Backyard is Host to Many

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have compiled a collection of pictures I captured today of all the pollinators feeding in my backyard. What entertainment! And, I don’t know if you knew we were hit with a massive hail storm at the beginning of June, and my yard says hail smail! It has bounced back quite nicely!

Our Own Pollinator Scavenger Hunt

We visited the Denver Botanic Gardens on York street today, and in honor of National Pollinator Week, created our own scavenger hunt for the pollinators in the gardens.  So, here are some lovely pictures of some of the pollinators we came upon in our visit! Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Why I Educate Children

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I attended the Colorado Pollinator Summit last Thursday, and met with many people who are part of organizations working toward a better tomorrow for pollinators.  I spent time in small work groups listening to the wide array of concerns and missions surrounding pollinators.  I walked away from the day encouraged to continue working on my mission, which is to educate children on all things related to pollinators.

The following Saturday I brought a pollinator program to the Whole Foods Kids Club (slideshow) at Southglenn Streets.  We had a small group, but I felt encouraged to have reached even a small group of individuals.

I do this because I see an opportunity to reach our future voters, leaders, and decision makers.  Children hold the key to a much larger potential change.  Adult education is important, but I have found that children do an excellent job of educating the adults in their lives, and are uninhibited in their communication on the topics of pollinators, and this can generate change in their own households, which is very powerful.

The challenge we are up against as educators of anything is acculturation.  Acculturation is the setting of behaviors and opinions based on how we have been indoctrinated over the course of our lives.  This is through school, media, and really any authorities in our lives.  We, the adults of society, have been taught to fear insects, and that our world is better without them, and naturally, we teach our children the same.  The problem with this  thought pattern is it does not consider the fact that insects are crucial to all ecosystems on Earth, and without them we would lose the diversity of species across the planet.  It’s easier, and requires less energy and thought, to simply spray pesticides and live without the “pests” in our world, but this isn’t based on truth.

This is where children come in. We must teach them that all things are important to us, and that we should consider how we might affect ecosystems when we remove any particular species.  We must give children a sense of understanding, rather than instill fear in them.  For example, we have been taught to fear the sting of bees.  However, bees are not out flying around looking for someone to sting; they are out collecting the things they need to survive, and stinging is the very last thing they are looking to do, which makes it unlikely to happen.

Bees provide a HUGE portion of resources we depend on, and it should be our priority to teach children to respect that bees fit into a very important larger picture of diversity, and without bees Earth would be in serious trouble.

20,000 species of bees live across the world, and how many do we know of as adults?  It’s time we changed this ignorance, through education (acculturation), for ourselves and future generations. The common fear should be one of a world without bees, and this is my goal as an educator of all things related to pollination.  I want children to know how pollination works, why it’s important to us,  who all the pollinators are, and how we can all make a better world through the protection of pollinators.

I know my work changes lives, and that is precisely why I do it!

Cheers to joining the movement to save our bees, and frankly all pieces in the pollinator circle of life!

Jessica

My Serendipitous Swarm

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sunday was a life changing day for me! I hadn’t really planned on adopting a honeybee colony until next spring, but a swarm happened in a friend’s neighborhood, and I ceased the day and went for it!

The swarm was hanging in a cluster the size of a soccer ball from a tree branch, minding its own business.  No one had really noticed it until my friend, Veronica spotted it and started telling everyone about it. She sent me a text Saturday late afternoon telling me about this swarm, and I figured it would be gone by morning, so I just let it go, but the next morning came and Veronica said it was still there!

The trouble the bees were having was finding a proper home, and I was ready to show up and provide that for them!  That morning I sent David to Murdoch’s to get me a full suit and gloves.  Another friend, Karin, referred me to an avid swarm collector, Brandy.  I gave Brandy the address of the swarm’s location and she met me there.

When I arrived I could see the swarm in the tree, just peacefully hanging onto the tree branch, and the scout bees were communicating directions to their sisters…I thought they may be close to taking flight again to find the home these scouts were waggling about, so I knew time was of the essence!

We set up a ladder, and Brandy handed me the swarm box. I reached up to the branch and gave it a good jolt to knock the cluster into the box.  It was thrilling!  All of those bees! Thousands of bees in one place!  Some clustered onto my suit on my left shoulder and I could feel their buzzing…such incredible energy! After about one hour of patiently waiting for most of the bees to realize the queen was in the box, I had the colony contained and ready to go to their new home!

We ventured over to “To Bee or Not To Bee” in Littleton to pick up the Langstroth hive, along with a few other things we needed.  That evening we transferred the colony to their new digs!

I would scoop them out onto the top of the box, and they would cluster onto my glove.  The energy I felt buzzing all over me was exciting to me, and none of them stung any part of my gear.  It was a peaceful transition from the swarm box to the hive. They seemed happy and ready to set up shop there, so we left them to rest until morning.

I have spent many minutes out on my deck watching this magnificent team of bees work nonstop, flying in and out of the hive.  I have to say I am very excited to have begun this journey this year rather than waiting until next spring!

Life is serendipitous sometimes, landing us right where we want to bee!