Pollinators Are So Much More Than just Honeybees!

1 Comment

I have making an attempt to do some self talk and improve my numerous past resolutions to more regularly immerse my self in blogging, whether it be for the Backyard Farm one here or my “Bishop’s Beer Blog”… https://bishopsbeerblog. I actually love the catharsis that envelopes me when I put thoughts about my favorite things onto “paper” ….. I guess you can call words spread across this page as “onto paper”…. I need to thank Jennifer Moore, https://wayward-bee.com/2022/01/13/how-to-grow-bees/ for her article that gave me a push I needed to write this one……It has been in the planning stages for nearly 3 years or more. Problem with my mental filing system is that it has aged and probably not very well …… LOL. Now, be kind if you visit her site…..She is a Brit and my Australian and Canadian buddies have labeled me an “Anglophile” and it is not as a compliment. When I was being an active follower of her site I learned an awful lot of useful stuff and have a brilliant poster she put together on my dining room wall, Sustainable Beekeeping; https://wayward-bee.com/sustainable-beekeeping-poster/ Please give her a look…..Another big plus for Jennifer is that she is a lover of sourdough bread, as am I. Poke around on my previous blog posts here and you may run across a recipe for using spent grains from my brewing to make bread……most of the grains now go to feed the chickens at one of my nearby apiaries ……and yes I have digressed…..so where was I?

A few years back during the fall Goldenrod flow I grabbed my camera and macro lens to visit the bees foraging on the blossoms. Here in my area of east Texas the Goldenrod is a major component of what bees can put away for the winter…..the weather here is rather mild here but that can create problems for the bees too. Gives them false hope and they can start to brood up and then a freeze hits and they go through their stores rather quickly. This was probably Fall of 2019 or 18 when I first took a look and I was surprised at the variety of winged critters swarm on the Goldenrod! Something else that I will add about Goldenrod…..the heads of the stalks are, yes, brightly golden, but on closer examination the blossom heads are a collection of incredible dainty and small individual flowers. The photos below will include honeybees and you can use them as a reference against the blossom size. I was amazed once I got down onto my belly and closely examined and photographed the drooping blossoms. With that perspective I saw winged critters almost too small to see as they flitted around….

Next group will include the teeny and tiniest that I was able to observe. All of the photos in this blog were shot in October of 2021 with a Sigma 90mm Macro lens……and yes I am still practicing. Before I will go on with some more photos I will reference Jennifer again. Her “how to grow bees” post really addresses what we need to create a winged critter friendly environment. When I have discussions with folks about my beekeeping I get lots of comments about protecting honeybees. This allows my to bring the discussion around to the myriad of pollinators that very few people even realize exist. I have a little shelter in my backyard that houses Mason Bees through out the year……unknown to many is that they may actually be a better pollinator than honeybees – they are also known as Orchard bees. You will notice wasps and hornets on blossoms….their larvae need protein to develop of which pollen is the key ingredient. And others that I have zero knowledge of what they need and how they utilize it. 2023 I may make a concerted effort to polish my macro lens skills and attempt to catalog the many winged critters on the Goldenrod.

Hope this gives you a better understanding and knowledge about pollinators and not just honeybees.



Post Freeze Update


December 22-24 my garden experienced a danged good freeze…..well, the freeze is not really good for the garden, so a better term would be…….an extended period of freezing weather of hard freezing temperatures. What is considered a hard freeze in this area, Kingwood, TX just north of Houston? A hard freeze warning is issued when temperatures drop below 28° for 2 hours or longer. Well, we had about 36 hours and it required some effort to help our cold intolerant plants from dying……….some didn’t make it!!!!!

My wife had a good number of ornamental plants that we covered in an attempt to minimize the damage with some success. My biggest worry was my Meyer Lemon tree that was nearly destroyed in the 2021 major deep freeze……yes Texas made national news on that one. I managed to get some recovery of the tree after the 2021 freeze and was optimistic that I would finally get some fruit as it was beginning to blossom…….I was able to protect, marginally, about 1/3 of the tree. More on that later.

I had been attempting to get some succession plantings of beets, carrots and sugar snap peas started. We had run out of coverings for my veggies so it was plan L time. Plan L stands for leaves, lots of leaves and deeply piled leaves. I did have some success. One failure were the sugar snap peas that had climbed over 20 inches up the trellised string ladders. I will tell you that some of the peas had not yet started climbing and and they were lucky enough to be buried under a thick cover of leaves.

Carrots upon uncovering looked very, very healthy.
After uncovering the beets, lo and behold, one of two snap pea vines were discovered. I hope to get them trained up the trellis this week. I also added 15-20 snap pea seeds that had been soaked over night.
Soaked for 24 hours in order to imbibe and be ready for the garden. A tip, if the seeds float in the water rather than sink to the bottom of the cup they will not be viable.
Next round of carrots emerging and they will extend my harvest a bit longer.
Another discovery…..young beet sprout that lay dormant until I removed the insulating cover of the leaves….they should also help extend the beet harvest.
Sadly I will just have a handful of surviving blossoms this year on the Meyer Lemon tree. Although I did not shoot a photo of it, but some of the damaged and dormant branches are beginning to leaf out…..gives me reason for optimism.
Oh…..some radishes…..don’t even know why I toss out the radish seeds, they are rarely eaten, except by garden pests but, they do stroke my ego a little because they will sprout quickly and visitors will compliment me on my green thumb…….as my chest puffs out. If they only knew…….

Looking forward I will add in some more beets, most likely another round of carrots, trellis up the peas, no more radishes and begin composting an enormous supply of fallen leaves. Just an FYI, I no longer till my garden plots. For the last 4 or 5 years I have just piled on leaves and grass clipping to suppress the weeds and add to organic material to the soil. In my humble opinion…..the fertility of my beds has markedly improved and the weeds struggle, they don’t disappear but the become more manageable.

In March tomatoes and peppers will go in. Maybe a week or too before that a couple of mounds of Irish potatoes will be added. Then a couple of teepees of beans of several sorts. I will grow Blue Lake and Kentucky Wonder pole beans…..last year’s crimson variety grew huge……and only produce a few handfuls…..going back to the trusted varieties.



%d bloggers like this: