Beneficial Insects

Pollinator Week: The Hazards Of Pollination

Posted by on Jun 21, 2013 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden | 22 comments

Pollinator Week: The Hazards Of Pollination

I wrote a post for Pollinator Week last year, highlighting the diversity of species we find here on the farm. I didn’t plan to write another post this year, but this week I feel compelled to. Before I get to my point, first I want you to imagine you’re a pollinator, a bumble bee, perhaps, like the one pictured above. Early every morning you set out to find your daily source of food. There are no weekends, no days off. Your survival, and the survival of your offspring, depends on your ability to gather enough food. While out scouting for sources of food, your priorities are...

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Pollinators Aplenty for Pollinator Week

Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden | 43 comments

Pollinators Aplenty for Pollinator Week

As you may have heard, this week is officially Pollinator Week!  It’s not that the pollinators are aware of that, but as gardeners, it is an excuse to stop and think about the pollinators in our gardens, and consider how diverse pollinator species can be. Over the last 48 hours I’ve been trying to pay closer attention to who is visiting which blooms in our gardens.  Even though I can’t, at least not yet, identify all the different species I encountered, I can still be impressed at the diversity of species that are frequenting our flowers. When we think of pollinators,...

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Orb Weaver Spiderlings

Posted by on Apr 9, 2012 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden | 49 comments

Orb Weaver Spiderlings

As life returns to the gardens this spring, it’s not just the plants that are stirring. At a turn in our driveway there is a large volcanic rock, no doubt put there by the previous owners, to prevent vehicles from cutting the corner.  Typical of lava rock, it’s riddled with various sized holes.  This rock seems to be a favored habitat of our resident lizards, and our bees enjoy drinking water that becomes trapped in the holes in winter and spring. Yesterday, while out in the garden, checking first for bees, I sat on the rock for few minutes during a brief break.  As I looked down...

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Mason Bees, and the Mighty Mizuna

Posted by on Mar 30, 2012 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden | 26 comments

Mason Bees, and the Mighty Mizuna

Mason Bees, and Mizuna, sums up a large part of my afternoon in the garden yesterday. We first brought Mason Bees to the farm a couple of years ago. This is their third year hatching in the garden here.  For the first two seasons we mostly saw evidence of Mason Bees, rather than the bees themselves. We’d see the tubes hatched out in spring, and new tubes filled in by early summer, showing the bees were active. As they’re somewhat shy, and elusive, compared to some of the other bees here, we’d very rarely notice them in the garden.  Occasionally we’d see a glint of...

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Long-Horn Bees

Posted by on Sep 16, 2011 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden, Native Wildlife | 32 comments

Long-Horn Bees

This may be remembered as the year of the bee at Curbstone Valley.  It started when we installed a few hives of honey bees on the farm this spring, but we also greatly understand the importance of the native bees that frequent our crops and flowers. Research has demonstrated that diversification of pollinators is critical for farms, and that organic farms situated close to wild-land habitats may depend more on native bees for pollination, than conventional farms.  Most conventional farms are almost wholly dependent on European honey bees for pollination as they lack the habitat necessary to...

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Woodland Skipper

Posted by on Sep 9, 2011 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden, Native Wildlife, Natives | 42 comments

Woodland Skipper

This year, as the gardens are starting to come together, it’s been tremendously rewarding to see more species of animal life showing up among the flowers. Some of the most notable additions to the gardens this year have been butterflies, including the Lorquin’s Admiral (Limenitis lorquini), and most recently the Mournful Dusky-Wing (Erynnis tristis).  Even for those species we’ve seen in previous years, this year we seem to have more of them.  That was true of our Checkerspot butterflies (Euphydryas chalcedona) in spring, and now in September, we seem to be overrun with a...

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Mason Bees

Posted by on Feb 9, 2011 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Garden | 32 comments

Mason Bees

We’ve hinted about adding honeybees to Curbstone Valley this year, and in fact, we’ve already ordered our bees which are expected to arrive in early April. In the meantime though, we’re not devoid of bees. In addition to our native resident bumble bees, sweat bees, and feral honeybees, we also have Orchard Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria). More than 400 species of Mason Bees are native to North America.  Unlike honeybees they do not reside in communal hives with a queen.  Mason Bees are solitary bees, and do not produce honey. We may have already had some Mason Bees here, they...

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Syrphid Flies

Posted by on Nov 1, 2010 in Beneficial Insects, Farm Blog, Native Wildlife | 27 comments

Syrphid Flies

Syrphid flies, also known as hover flies, or flower flies, are often overlooked, but these small beneficial insects are worth attracting to any garden. An important component of organic gardening is being aware of predator and prey relationships among the leaves and flowers.  Our vegetable gardens and orchard were newly planted this year, and as such are somewhat out of balance in regards to the insects that inhabit those areas, with crop-damaging prey species currently far outnumbering available predators, but we are beginning to see a shift in our favor. Lots of tender green growth in the...

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