Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Just Never Know What You're Gonna Find

Every April, usually around Earth Day, we have our annual Spring Clean-up Day, when staff and volunteers, armed with gloves and large trash bags, scour the parking lots, trails and road for trash. Today was the day, and our lone volunteer and I hit the road, eager to find the castoff stuff of passing cars. Amazingly, we found very little!

The big find of the morning (and of course I had no camera, seeing as how I was picking up trash and didn't think I'd need it) was colonies of busy little bees flying in and out of their nests in the ground. They were small fuzzy bees, and their nests were pencil-sized holes centered in small mounds of sand - very much like anthills. I hunkered down next to them to watch, and our volunteer stood nearby taking it all in. I suspected these were some sort of solitary ground dwelling bee, and as such no threat.

When I came back inside, I hopped online to scour the ether for any information I could find to ID these bees. I believe they are miner or digger bees. The best information I could find was at:

Digger/miner bees are solitary, building single cell nests in loose sandy soil that has little vegetation. Several of these bees may be nesting in the same area. They come out on sunny days (like this morning), foraging for pollen and laying their eggs. They are beneficial pollinators, and they are apparently fairly docile (translation: they don't sting unless highly provoked). If you have them in your yard, you want to keep them around for the benefit of your gardens.

I was going to grab the camera after work and snap a couple shots, but it's clouding over now and is supposed to rain. I'll try to get photos the next sunny day we have that I can escape the office for a few moments.

1 comment:

  1. I think I found the same bees in Moreau Lake State Park, Saratoga County. If they're what we think they are, they are indeed docile and non-aggressive because they have no queen to defend: each female makes her own nest and lays her own eggs in a nest she burrows out of the sand, which she coats with a cellophane-like membrane (it's actually polyester!) and packs with pollen for the larvae to eat. I stepped in a whole cloud of them and came away unscathed.

    I'm delighted you found so little trash to pick up. I'm afraid I can't say the same about my first paddle on the river this spring. I wish I could find the folks who litter and force them to eat what they toss.