Aug 122016

bee in the know

After the recent review of The Bee-Friendly Garden: Design an Abundant, Flower-Filled Yard that Nurtures Bees and Supports Biodiversity byKate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn, I have been paying more attention to the bees around me.  What I came to realize is, well, there is a whole lot more which I do not know and could learn.  This is a start.

Below is a summary compilation of scholarly papers, book reviews, and letters all concerning our neighbors, the bees.  There were so many papers and sources of information which I could share, but I had to cut it off at some point.  I tried to keep the topics somewhat related to help with narrowing down the results. u6k7v3t5

Relocation risky for bumble bee colonies – this letter in reference to a paper on the relocation of bees addresses some of the possible issues with such moves.

USBombus, a database of contemporary survey data for North American Bumble Bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Bombus) distributed in the United States – from the abstract of this research paper, “While a wealth of historic data is now available for many of the North American species found to be in decline in online databases, systematic survey data of stable species is still not publically available. The availability of contemporary survey data is critically important for the future monitoring of wild bumble bee population.  Without such data, the ability to ascertain the conservation status of bumble bees in the United States will remain challenging.”  this paper was authored by Koch, J. et al, representing several universities and the USDA.

Review of the book The Bees of the World 2nd ed. American Entomologist (the review begins on page 3) – As the author of this book review states, “That only seven years have passed since the first edition is testament to the vigorous ongoing research on bees.”  This review happens to have been written 7 years ago with even larger amount of study and focus being given to this insect family.  Some of the references to changes in the classifications have potentially resolved themselves, though even those are under constant review as more knowledge comes to light.

At 900+ pages, this book is not one you lightly add to your library, that is, unless you are a librarian at a large library.

Chemical Signals in Bumble Bee Foraging – though this paper is older, it provides a great look into the world of bumble bees and understanding how they reach the flowers in your garden.

Hive-stored pollen of honey bees: many lines of evidence are consistent with pollen preservation, not nutrient conversion – “Our findings have important implications for the improvement of natural food storage, artificial food supplements, and water balance in the hive especially during overwintering.”  As one who likes to store up one season’s harvest for use in the winter, I have appreciated the research done on nutrient levels and safe storing of these foods.  In a similar fashion bees store pollen, though it has not always been known why this is done nor if there was an unknown benefit for them doing so.  Anderson, K. et al take a look close look at this storage of pollen.


Nest architecture and species status of the bumble bee Bombus (Mendacibombus) shaposhnikovi (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Bombini) – “Here, we report behavioural observations of the nesting biology of B. shaposhnikovi and provide new evidence for the conspecific status of B. shaposhnikovi and B. handlirschianus in our discovery of a nest containing both colour forms.”

I had never put much thought into the structure of a nest – where food was located compared to living quarters, how many eggs were placed in each cell, etc.  It is amazing what you can observe once you slow down and look at different parts of nature.  The authors also present their doubts about the species of Bombus, differentiated only by color, being actual separate species.

Speaking of nests and the various ways of building them, here is a paper talking about the nest architecture of a tropical bee – Nest Architecture and Foraging Behavior in Bombus pullatus (Hymenoptera: Apidae), with Comparisons to Other Tropical Bumble Bees.

And the Bombus transversalisNest construction and architecture of the Amazonian bumble bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae)


Determining the Impacts of Pesticide and Nutrition-Induced Stress on Honey Bee Colony Growth and Survival – while this research project is still underway, I thought it was interesting enough to mention.  When I am  hungry, I know how my performance suffers.  Could it be the same for bees?  Another reason for all of us to take a look at our gardens and make changes, even small ones, to help out our much needed pollinators.

As a part of the above mentioned research project, several papers have already been published looking at various aspects. Here are a few of them:

Honey bee colonies provided with natural forage have lower pathogen loads and higher overwinter survival than those fed protein supplements

Methods for Comparing Nutrients in Beebread Made by Africanized and European Honey Bees and the Effects on Hemolymph Protein Titers

May 012015

produce auction collage

This post in part of a series about produce auctions across the USA.  While this is not a comprehensive list, I have tried to include auctions about which I can find information.  If you know of any others, feel free to leave a note in the comments section.

Cedar Valley Produce Auction – according to their brochure, the first auction this year is April 17th.  Auctions are held on Mondays at 4 PM, and Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 AM.  Cedar Valley Produce Auction is located at 18072 Addison Ave, Elma, IA 50628.  This is in the northern part of the state, near Minnesota.

From their website:

“In 2001 a group of farmers built the Cedar Valley Produce Auction by the town of Elma in northeast Iowa, and in the following years it has grown and now sells over $3 million annually! Selling flowers in the spring and then produce in the summer. All produce and flowers are grown locally and sold at the auction. … The auction also supplies local produce it wholesale prices. In the spring the Auction sells flowers in flats, and hanging baskets and mid summer changes over to sell fresh produce.”

 Sara, at Learning The Frugal Life, shares her experience going to a local produce auction in Iowa for the first time.  I love hearing other’s experiences and how other auctions are run.

Southern Iowa Produce Auctionis located in the southeast  portion of the state at 19141 Ice Avenue, Bloomfield, IA. Their first auction for the 2015 Season was Friday, April 10, followed by a second auction on April 17.  After the first two auction, they moved to twice weekly auctions through mid-July, on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 AM.  For a market report or schedule information, call 712-432-8593.

Curving Back has a great post with lots of pictures if you are wanting to see a photo representation of this auction.

Lamoni Produce Auction/Farmsong Produce Auction, located at 16340 Farm Song Road, has produce auctions every Tuesday and Friday at 10 am.  In July they change to having three auctions – Monday at 4 PM and the Wednesday and Friday auctions at 10 AM.  In September they change  back to twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Located in south central  Iowa, they are right on the boarder with Missouri and would be a convenient stop for those living in either state.

Dec 012012

Among all the boring bills and junk mail I found this wonderful surprise yesterday.  Just a reminder that if you haven’t ordered your catalogs, and want to, now is the time.  Some are expected now, while others will not come till Janurary.

To request the above pictured catalog, click here.  Their website says, “A source for over 600 heirloom and open-pollinated varieties, including many new introductions from our Preservation Collection. Catalogs are sent via bulk mail and take 2-3 weeks to arrive. We mail once a week on Thursdays.”  This is the company I have ordered from for the past 5 years or so.  I have been happy with their selections and service.

Burpee is another company from whom I buy seeds, though usually I get theirs from the local store.  You can request a free catalog from there by filling out the form here.  They begin mailing their catalogs in late December.  If you plan on ordering form them you might also want to go ahead and sign up for their email list to recieve a $5 off $30 coupon code.

Something to keep in mind when ordering from a nursery, for some plants it is best to order from a nursery in your Zone.  This really goes for plants, though can apply to certain seeds too.  If a plant is used to growing in a colder climate, for example, moving it to a hot Zone may shock it.  To find a nursery near you, for cases like this, I would suggest searching online, calling your local Master Gardener group, or talking to someone who grows plants locally.  Even a local vegeatable farmer will know of others who grow ornatmenal grasses or fruit trees. has a great article written by Stacy Fisher, “48 Free Seed Catalogs and Plant Catalogs.” Though this was written for 2012 I’m pretty sure most of them are still relavent. If you aren’t sure who to order from, or are looking for a different company to try, you will want to check out her article.  The list includes catalogs in a wide variety of areas, from the traditional garden plants to tropical plants to water gardens

Here are links to a few from her list (updated as needed):


The above picture is of their 2012 catalog.  Their website has a form to fill out to recieve their 2013 catalog and says, “Please look for the new 2013 Spring catalog in your mailbox late December. ” This is free if you live in the U.S., but there is a fee if you don’t.

Bluestone Perennials – this is what I meant by finding a new catalog you can use.  Bluestone Perennials sells ornamental grasses, perennials, shrubs, and mums.  As I’m redoing my front flower bed and looking for new perennials to place there, this is exactly what I was looking for.

Here is another one I am looking forward to looking through. Brent and Becky’s bulbs have an online and a print version of their catalog.  The current print version is for Summer/Fall 2012.  There is also a deal currently going on.  “50% OFF ALL REMAINING GARDEN BULBS AND COZY COMPANIONS UNTIL MONDAY DEC. 3RD AT 6PM EST.”  If you are looking to order some bulbs and are a bit behind doing so {clears throat} this may be the perfect opportunity to do so.

(picture from

Burnt Ridge Nursery & Orchard is another source for a non-vegetable catalog you can request.  Looking for fruit or nut trees, berry bushes, ornatmentals or native for the northwest, then this will be what you want.  Just remember, for some of these it is best to order from a nursery in your Zone.  It is still fun to look, though, and you never know what you may find that will work for where you are.

(picture from

Another company I have heard good things about, but from whom I have never ordered, is Southern Exposure.  They are another company who sells heirloom variety plants.  In addition to seeds, their catalog has “seasonal garden tips, disease and insect control, seed saving, and detailed variety descriptions.”  According to their website, shipping of their catalog starts in December and should take 2 – 4 weeks to arrive.  This catalog is free if you live in the U.S.

Here are more links, not found on the above mentioned list.  (Please let me know if they are there and I just missed them):

Gurney’s Seed and Nursery Co. – “Receive a FREE copy of the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery catalog PLUS a coupon for $25 OFF by simply filling out the information below.”  The coupon is for $25 off a $50 purchase.

Park Seed – click on button in upper left hand corner to request a free catalog

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Henry Field’s Seed & Nursery Co.

Seeds of Change

May 142012

Do you ever find a link, then wonder how you did without that information?  Well, I found such a site recently.

Vegetable MD Online

It comes to us from the Department of Plant Pathology from Cornell University.

A quick browse around it answered my question that no one else seemed to be able to answer last year.  And that was, “What is killing my tomatoes?”  Now I know, and the step I thought to take seems to be the right answer.  I won’t be planting my tomatoes in that spot for a few years.

So take a look if something has you stumped or if you are just curious.  I really like their  phot0s and descriptions.

White tomato plants june 14 2013