The Bees’ Knees: No Mow May

Bumble Bee Buzz Pollination for Your Plants – Mother Earth News

The honeybees were all swarming the hive at the beginning of the day. They were waiting for announcements before they started their day of collecting pollen and nectar. It had become the daily routine ever since they had unionized the year before. Most of the bees were happy with the new routine, although a few still had to be rounded up each morning.

Science Pub from Home: Buzzing about Santa Barbara's Bee Diversity | Santa  Barbara Museum of Natural History

Ralph: Okay. Everybody ready?

Jake: We’re still waiting for Ethan and Bradley.

Someone groaned: They are always late.

Another voice: And always seems to knock off work early.

Ralph: Let’s get started. First, let’s have a cheer for Suzy. She’s been promoted to crew chief for the afternoon shift.

A great buzz went up for Suzy.

Less brilliant flowers still keep bees coming back

Ralph: Second, the queen has increased our quotas slightly.

General commotion.

Ralph: It’s nothing major.

Al: I thought our quotas were set in the contract.

Ralph: They are. But they’re tied to the amount of honey we’re actually producing. It seems like we aren’t bringing back enough to completely meet the needs of the hive. So everyone is expected to make one more trip back daily.

The beautiful flowers that bees can't use - BBC Future

Marie: Maybe it’s those guys that don’t seem to be working as hard as the rest of us. They’re probably not meeting their quota.

Ralph: I’ll check, but I think everyone is doing their share.

Marie: Then how do they get done so quickly? One more trip daily means less time with our families. It’s not fair if some aren’t pulling their weight.

Ralph: Let me look into it.

The bees set about their work. Ralph still hadn’t seen Ethan and Bradley, so he hung around the hive a little longer. It was hard sometimes being the union rep. He didn’t like needing to check up on his fellow bees. Finally, they flew into sight.

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Ralph: Morning, guys. A little late aren’t you?

Ethan: I guess so. I didn’t think it mattered. As long as we get our work done.

Ralph: It doesn’t really. Except the other bees have been noticing that you two don’t seem to be working as hard as everyone else.

Bradley: What do you mean? We make the required number of trips to the hive. The contract says that’s all the job requires.

Ethan: Yeah. We’re just more efficient than the rest of you.

Ralph: How can you be more efficient? We all work the same way.

Ethan: We just know the best places to hunt for pollen.

A Front Yard in a Subdivision | Steve Snedeker's Landscaping and Gardening  Blog

Ralph: What best places? We live in a subdivision. There’s only so many places to go.

Bradley: It’s our secret. But we have a system. And it’s totally legal.

Ralph: Show me.

Ethan: If we show you, everyone’s going to want to go there. It’ll be ruined.

Ralph: Just wait for me to make my report to the queen, and I’ll follow you.

Ethan and Bradley buzzed around for a few minutes, but by the time Ralph came back they were gone. He grumbled and started his gathering. He noticed that by the time he had finished his quota, they were already off playing in the field. He was a little frustrated.

How do Bees Fly? (A Simple Guide) - Carolina Honeybees

The bees were not very happy with the new quota. The extra trip daily seemed to be more difficult that Ralph had imagined. Maybe there weren’t as many flowers as he thought. He decided that he needed to follow Ethan and Bradley. One morning he told the hive that there wouldn’t be any announcements the next day, they needed to just get straight to work. Ralph waited behind the hive to watch for Ethan and Bradly. Sure enough, they started out about a half hour after everyone else.

Join Plantlife's 'No Mow May' Initiative |

He followed them out of the subdivision. Where were they going? They headed straight for a yard behind the subdivision. It was full of wildflowers and tall grasses. LOTS of wildflowers. Very quickly, they collected their pollen and headed back for the hive. He watched them for a while. There were so many more plants here that they easily made their quota in less time than the other bees in the subdivision, even with the slightly longer distance.

On their final trip in, they spotted Ralph.

Maidstone takes part again in 'No Mow May' - MBC News Website

Ethan: Hey! You’re spying on us.

Ralph: I had to find out where you were going. You guys are the only ones who haven’t been complaining about the workload.

Ethan: That’s because we know where to find the most pollen.

Ralph: You’re not working as much as the other bees.

Bradley: We go a little further, but it doesn’t take as long to gather because there are so many flowers. The contract says that we have to make a certain number of trips, not that we have to spend all day doing it.

Ralph: That’s true. You’re not in trouble. I just wanted to see what you were doing. What is this place?

Ethan: It’s just a regular house. It has humans like the ones in the subdivision.

No Mow May' encourages homeowners to help bees by letting their lawns grow

Ralph: Why are there so many flowers?

Ethan: Some of them are what the humans call “weeds”. The humans in the subdivision aren’t allowed to have them.

Bradley: But these humans are doing what’s called “No Mow” May. They just let everything grow to help the native bees thrive. So we’re taking advantage of it. It’s great!

Ralph: Are they the only ones?

Ethan: There’s a few yards around here.

Ralph: I think we should let the others know. It looks like there’s enough to share.

;’/: You’re probably right. There’s really no reason we should be the only ones who benefit.

The next morning, Bradley and Ethan shared their find with the hive. Soon, everyone was thriving.

5 Tips For A Dazzling No Mow May

From Bee City USA: Lawns cover 40 million acres, or 2%, of land in the US, making them the single largest irrigated crop we grow. Lawns provide little benefit to wildlife, and are often harmful. Grass-only lawns lack floral resources and nesting sites for bees and are often treated with pesticides that harm bees and other invertebrates.

The start of the growing season is a critical time for hungry, newly emerged native bees. Floral resources may be hard to find, especially in urban and suburban landscapes. By allowing it to grow longer, and letting flowers bloom, your lawn can provide nectar and pollen to help your bee neighbors thrive.

Mowing less creates habitat and can increase the abundance and diversity of wildlife including bees and other pollinators. One way to reduce mowing is by participating in No Mow April, No Mow May, or Low Mow Spring. https://beecityusa.org/no-mow-may/

Does "No Mow May" work for your South Texas yard? | San Antonio River  Authority

Pictures courtesy of Google Images


Bats in the Belfry (and Elsewhere)

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Being just a couple of days before Halloween, we thought this would be a good time to get to know a little more about that much-maligned symbol of the dark, the bat.

Our initial plan was to interview a few at their annual Bats are Misunderstood Mammals (BAMM) convention, but some of the members were afraid that outsiders couldn’t be trusted to not give away their location. Apparently our multi-species orientation was not enough reassurance.

So we had to speak with them via Skype (no picture). Here’s what we found out:

Cheeseland: So why all the secrecy? This is your big season.

BAAM: You have got to be kidding. We hate Halloween. All it does is popularize the stereotype about bats. We are not scary animals that swoop down in the night to scare people.


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CL: Umm. Actually we have seen some bats come down after us.

BAAM: Sorry, our bad. Some of you guys are lizards and birds, aren’t you?


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(uncomfortable silence)

CL: OK, enough of that. Tell us about your good deeds.

BAAM: Well, we eat lots and lots of insects. You guys don’t have insects on staff, do you?

CL: Let’s keep moving.

BAAM (nervously): It’s mainly mosquitoes, everyone hates mosquitoes don’t they?


BAAM: Nectar! We love nectar! We have a huge role in pollination. In fact, the majority of our species eats nectar and fruit.


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CL: Really? That’s very interesting. And where do you live?

BAAM (relaxing a little): Oh we live pretty much everywhere, except where it’s really cold. We like relatively enclosed spaces. Since we sleep during the day, we prefer to keep out of the sun.

CL: It seems like a lot of you can live in a small space.

BAAM: Actually, yes. Our bodies are quite small, and we wrap our wings tightly around us.


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CL: Does that cause any problems?

BAAM: It causes one of the huge misconceptions about bats. When it gets dark, we want to get outside to  eat. So we all try to rush through the same openings. Sometimes it looks like we’re coming out as a horde to cause trouble.

CL: And some bats probably have fly lower than others which is what looks like swooping.


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BAAM: Exactly!

CL: We’re out of time here. We’d like to thank you for sharing your time with us.

BAAM: Thank you for having us.

(Before the connection breaks, we hear a loud bat voice: How many times do I need to tell you? Never do an interview with one of those liberal animal groups! They always make us look bad.)


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(all pictures courtesy of Google Images)