Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and Beyond

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Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and Beyond

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  • 1.Published by Utah State University Extension and Utah Plant Pest Diagnostic LaboratoryENT-133-09September 2009Gardening for Native Bees in Utah and Beyond James H. Cane Linda KervinResearch Entomologist, USDA ARS Logan, UTPollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics ResearchDo You Know? 900 species of native bees reside in Utah. Some wild bees are superb pollinators of Utahs tree fruits, raspberries, squashes, melons and cucumbers. Few of our native bees have much venom or any inclination to sting. Our native bees use hundreds of varieties of garden flowers, many of them water-wise. A garden plant need not be native to attract and feed native bees.Utah is home to more than 20 percent of the 4,000+ named species of wildbees that are native to North America. Fig. 1. Carder bee (Anthidium) foraging at lavender (Lavendula: Lamiaceae).1Except for bumblebees and some sweatbees, our native bees are solitary, not so-cial, many with just one annual generationthat coincides with bloom by their favoritefloral hosts. In contrast, the familiar honey-bee is highly social, has perennial colonies,and was brought to North America bysettlers from Europe. Regardless of thesedifferences, however, all of our bees needpollen and nectar from flowers. The sugarsin sweet nectar power their flight; motherbees also imbibe some nectar to mix withpollen that they gather. Pollen is fortifiedwith proteins, oils and minerals that are es-sential for the diets of their grub-like larvaeback at the nest.Our flower gardens can become valuablecafeterias for local populations of diversenative bees. In our cities and towns, nativeplant communities have been displacedFig. 2. A pollinator garden can also be water-wise. Purple Penstemon strictus, front,by pavement, buildings and lawns. In the firecracker penstemon (P. eatonii), center, and blue flax (Linum perenne), background,countryside, grain and hay crops likewisecombine to make a pleasing design. 1

2. offer our native bees little food. Because bees find theirfavorite flowers by their color or scent, a bee garden canalso be appealing to the homeowner. Many of theseflowering species are surprisingly easy to grow.Some people are fearful of being stung if they attract na-tive bees to their yard. In our 25 years of watching beesat flowers, we have yet to be stung by any species ofnon-social bees native to North America. We have beenstung handling honey bees or bumble bees at their colo-nies. These social bees are the ones that deliver the mostpainful stings. But even then, weve never been stungwhen just watching them at flowers.The table of garden plants for native bees (page 4) canhelp guide home gardeners in Utah and across NorthAmerica to genera of flowering plants whose specieswill please gardener and bee alike. In turn, pollinationservices by bees set bumper crops of all of our tree fruitsFig. 3. Nevada bee-plant (Cleome lutea) is a water-wise annualand some vegetables too. Native bees also give hours of native to western U.S., providing pollen in summer to bees suchpleasant entertainment and distraction as you follow theiras this Anthophora digger bee. 1foraging rounds or their amorous pursuits at your flowers.The list consists of plant genera, many of whose speciesboth attract native bees and are available from standardor native seed companies or plant nurseries. In a fewcases, particularly valuable plants for native bees arelisted though not yet available commercially. If just be-ginning your Utah bee garden, consider species from thegenera that are bolded in blue italics. These representbroadly available, adaptable, and dependable plantgenera whose blooms reliably attract native bees. Manyof the genera in the list will not be universally adaptableto all climates, soils, and irrigation regimes; you will needto make informed decisions from among the genera inthe list for your local use. If you are trying water-wise (orxeriscape) plants from seed, autumn seeding is benefi-cial, as many need a cool wet period to elicit germina- Fig. 4. Mason bees (Osmia) are very important pollinators, andare superior to honey bees in tree fruit orchards. They forage attion. Note that the vast majority of choices are perenni-hundreds of different flowers, including sweetvetch (Hedysarumals, in contrast with the many traditional annual bedding Fabaceae). 1plants. You will need to be patient during their first yearof establishment, weed regularly, and provide occasionalwater as they develop their extensive root systems.Be aware of the invasive tendencies of some plant spe-cies in your locale. The bachelors button or cornflower(Centauria cyanus), for instance, is a well-behavedgarden plant across much of the U.S., but in parts of thePacific Northwest, it has become a naturalized, undesir-able weed. If in doubt, please check with your countyExtension agent or the Utah Department of Agriculture,or visit one of the Web sites listed below for introductoryweed information.invader.dbs.umt.edu/Noxious_Weeds, is a searchable listing of all U.S. weeds, by statewww.invasive.org/weedus, Invasive Plant Atlas of the US, contains imageswiki.bugwood.org/Invasipedia, lists close to 200 speciesFig. 5. Male Melissodes bees (with distinctive long antennae) with detailed information on eachsleeping on a sunflower head (Helianthus: Asteraceae). 1UPPDL, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan UT 84322, utahpests.usu.eduPage 2 3. Some popular garden flowers are missing from the list, The list is a work in progress. If you find errors, oversights such as tulips, petunias and marigolds. These and some or useful refinements, I will be happy to consider your other garden flowers have, through years of artificial suggestions for modification so long as it retains its current breeding and selection, lost whatever attraction theyform. You may disseminate the list or modify your copy of may have had for bees. Thats no reason not to plant it for local needs or your personal preferences as you see and enjoy them; they just wont feed bees. fit. Happy bee-ing!! Fig. 6. The legume, western prairie clover (Dalea ornata), is an Fig. 7. The native squash bee (Peponapis pruinosa) pollinates Intermountain West native, producing pollen for months for beesmost of Utahs squashes and pumpkins (cucurbits), and is active like this bumblebee (Bombus).2 primarliy in the early morning hours. 1 Fig. 8. Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium) is a native shrubFig. 9. Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) blooms for months, with aromatic foliage. 1 and is the authors favorite pollinator plant. 1 Fig. 10. Blue hyssop (Agastache: Lamiaceae) blooms in mid to Fig. 11. Design the pollinator garden with a succession of blooms late summer and is very hardy. 1 for season-long foraging. 1UPPDL, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan UT 84322, utahpests.usu.edu Page 3 4. Garden Plant Recommendations for Wild Bees of North AmericaThis table contains nearly 200 garden plant genera with species whose flowers are sought by wild bees of North America. The Code column is useful for Utah gardeners. Some additional species not coded as G or UForm tells whether the usable are suitable for Utah but only in the hot, southernmost climates (e.g. Larrea or creosote bush). species in the genus are G - grows in UtahA - annual U - Utah nativeP - perennial W - water-wise S - shrub F - food product T - treePlants in bold italic are great choices for Utah gardeners. GenusFamilyCommon Name CodeFormsNotes Abelia CAPRIFOLIACEAEabeliaS Acacia FABACEAEacaciaWST Acer ACERACEAE maple GUT Achillea ASTERACEAEyarrow GUWPA. millefolium weedy Aconitum RANUNCULACEAE monkshood GUP AgastacheLAMIACEAE hyssopG Psee Fig. 10 AjugaLAMIACEAE carpet bugleG P Allium LILIACEAE ornamental onionsGUWP Althea MALVACEAE hollyhock G Pnot double-flowered AmelanchierROSACEAEserviceberryGUS AmorphaFABACEAEfalse indigoG S AnchusaBORAGINACEAEwild forget-me-not AP AnethumAPIACEAEdillGA AquilegiaRANUNCULACEAE columbine GUPnot double-flowered Arctostaphylos ERICACEAE manzanitaGUWS Argemone PAPAVERACEAEprickly poppyGUWP ArmeriaPLUMBAGINACEAEsea thriftG P AsterASTERACEAEasterGUWPnot double-flowered Astragalus FABACEAElocoweed GUWP BaileyaASTERACEAEdesert marigoldGW P Baptisia FABACEAEwild-indigo G P Berberis BERBERIDACEAE barberryG S Borago BORAGINACEAEborageGA Brassica BRASSICACEAEmustard GA B. kaber and B. nigra weedy Calamintha LAMIACEAE calamintG P Calliopsis ASTERACEAEannual coreopsisGA C. tinctoria CallirhoeMALVACEAE wine cupsGW P CallunaERICACEAE heather Sneeds acidic soils Camissonia ONAGRACEAEcamissoniaG P CampanulaCAMPANULACEAE bell flower G PUPPDL, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan UT 84322, utahpests.usu.edu Page 4 5. Genus Family Common Name Code FormsNotes CaragenaFABACEAE Siberian peashrubG S CarthamnusASTERACEAE safflower GWF A Caryopteris LAMIACEAEblue mist spireaGW S esp. C. x clandonensis CassiaFABACEAE many now Senna T Ceanothus RHAMNACEAE buckbrush GW S California species only Cercidium FABACEAE palo verde W T CercisFABACEAE redbud GST Cercocarpus ROSACEAE mountain mahogany GUWS Chaenomeles ROSACEAE flowering quince G S ChamaebatiariaROSACEAE fernbushGUWS see Fig. 8 Chilopsis BIGNONIACEAE desert willowS Chrysothamnus ASTERACEAE rabbit brush, chamisa GUWS = Ericameria Citrullus CUCURBITACEAEwatermelon GF A CitrusRUTACEAE grapefruit, orange, lemonT Clarkia ONAGRACEAE clarkiaGAnot double-flowered CleomeCLEOMACEAE bee-plant GUW Asee Fig. 3 Coreopsis ASTERACEAE coreopsis GWAP CoriandrumAPIACEAE corianderGF A Coronilla FABACEAE crownvetch G P CosmosASTERACEAE cosmos GAP Cucurbita CUCURBITACEAEsquash, gourd, pumpkin GF Asee Fig. 7 CupheaLYTHRACEAE false heatherG S C. hyssopifolia Cydonia ROSACEAE fruiting quinceF S CynaraASTERACEAE artichoke, cardoon F P Cynoglossum BORAGINACEAE hounds tongue G P C. grande; shade Dalea FABACEAE prairie cloverGUWP see Fig. 6carrot, Queen Annes DaucusAPIACEAEGFP some weedylace DelphiniumRANUNCULACEAElarkspur GU AP not double-flowered DelospermaAIZOACEAEice plant GW P Digitalis SCROPHULARIAC