The urban beekeeping fad is still going strong in the United States with city and rural folks jumping in on this exciting agricultural hobby. For some it’s the lure of fresh honey; pure in form with no water added. For others it is part of the larger gardening craze called pollinator gardens. And I suspect for most people, it’s a little of both.
On the commercial side, honey bee pollination is critical to the agriculture system that has emerged here in the United States. Crops such as blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bees and almond growers rely entirely on the honey bee for pollinating their trees. It is estimated that more than a million colonies are needed each year in California just to pollinate the state’s almond crop. Some argue that if it weren’t for the introduction of the honey bee, we would not be the agricultural powerhouse we are.
But this success story is not without a down side. Continue reading “Native Pollinators Pushed Out By Honey Bees”
I was walking along the edge of the rye field when I notice a bumblebee on a mustard flower. However the more I stared at it the more I noticed something was wrong. The bumblebee was not facing in the correct direction, namely such that it could gather nectar. And what’s more, it wasn’t moving. Then I notice a slight orange strip which begged closer inspection.
What I realized as I got closer was the bumblebee was not there by choice. It was in the jaws of a Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumena vatia). Crab spiders are Continue reading “Crab Spider Ambushes Bumblebee”
I wanted a light and healthy dish for a weekend dinner and I was not going to have a lot of prep time. So I turned to one of the quickest proteins to cook, Oregon albacore tuna and paired it with zoodles (zucchini noodles) I made with a spiralizer. Start to finish this recipe took less than 30 minutes.
2 five ounce Oregon albacore tuna steaks
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Season albacore tuna steaks with cayenne pepper on both sides and season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Places seasoned tuna in skillet and cook to desired doneness – 1 1/2 minutes per side for rare. Continue reading “Seared Albacore Tuna with Garlic Olive Zoodles”
Phacelia tanacetifolia or Lacy Fiddleneck is my favorite insectary plant; attracting honey bees, native bumblebees, solitary bees, parasitic wasps, syrphid flies, and many other beneficial insects. It provides both quality pollen and copious amounts of nectar to these insects and in return you get the benefit of increased pollination and pest management. Because Phacelia is quick growing and supports flowers that last a long time, it is a great insectary plant.
Insectary plants are grown with the express purpose of providing increased pollen and nectar resources required by the natural enemies of harmful garden pests. Providing these resources builds up the population of these beneficial insects in your garden. And in addition to attracting predatory insects, insectary plants also draw in friendly insects that Continue reading “Phacelia tanacetifolia: An Extraordinary Insectary Plant”
I have to admit I did not know what guerilla gardening was until yesterday. According to Wikipedia, “Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to utilize, such as an abandoned site, an area that is not being cared for, or private property. It encompasses a diverse range of people and motivations, ranging from gardeners who spill over their legal boundaries to gardeners with political influences who seek to provoke change by using guerrilla gardening as a form of protest or direct action. The land that is guerrilla gardened is usually abandoned or perceived to be neglected by its legal owner. That land is used by guerrilla gardeners to raise plants, frequently focusing on food crops or plants intended for aesthetic purposes.”
Yesterday I met a woman that has a different purpose – she guerilla gardens for pollinators. Our pollinators have suffered from loss of habitat, pesticide use, invasive plants and animals, and diseases. Many of our pollinators are federally listed as threatened or endangered species. And we have lost over Continue reading “Guerilla Gardening May Save Our Pollinators”