Saturday, September 24, 2022
HomeBeeKeepingOregon Sunshine: shine a lightweight in your pollinators

Oregon Sunshine: shine a lightweight in your pollinators


Washington skies have been grey and drizzled after I first alighted on the Bee Impressed Backyard in Onalaska final week. Bundled in a number of sweatshirts, I figured I had a zero probability of recognizing bees, so I left my digital camera within the pickup.

This spectacular pollinator haven deserves a more in-depth look, however at the moment I need to fulminate over a specific plant. I’ve seen Oregon sunshine earlier than, however largely in small patches tucked between sharp rocks, nestled on coastal cliffs, or glowing in deserty outcrops. However this patch was something however modest, protecting over 4400 sq. ft in a golden sheen.

The identify Oregon sunshine is apt. When you’re not conversant in the coastal Pacific Northwest, belief me after I say it’s dank, darkish, and drear more often than not. However patches of this perky composite with its saffron blooms and silver-gray leaves illuminate the panorama like LED lamps. 

A Nomada cuckoo bee, bedecked in pink, pauses for a nectar snack. All pictures by Rusty Burlew.

Pollinator patrol

After a quick strolling tour of the grounds and plantings, my host, Kay Crawford, turned me free to discover and {photograph}. I fetched my digital camera considerably reluctantly as a result of I had seen few bees underneath the threatening skies. However because the earth warmed, Kay’s honey bees tentatively ventured from their abodes whereas courageous bumbles slotted themselves into the foxgloves. By no means say by no means.

I dawdled amongst the hives for some time, then wandered all the way down to the beckoning yellow patch. Holy moly! In lower than twenty minutes, all the things had modified. I by no means noticed so many natives in a single place. Each bloom, 1000’s of them, had no less than one bee, and plenty of had multiples. Bees tussled over some flowers, as in “I used to be right here first!” and shared the others. Huge bees, bitty bees, and beastly bees frolicked within the blooms, rolling among the many petals and packing pollen.

An impressive assortment of each wild bees and honey bees appeared as quickly because the day warmed.

No beeless blooms

Regardless of the sheer variety of pollinators, images have been robust. The wind whipped throughout the panorama, thrashing the flowers like a stand of midwestern wheat. Gusts of wind accompanied by intermittent drizzle are usually not “pollinator-friendly,” however the bees remained, as enthralled with this show as I used to be. They held tight whereas swaying and packing.

Close to the Oregon sunshine, about 4 ft away, was a patch of absolutely flowered catmint. The catmint was purple and noisy, internet hosting a collection of bumbles and a scattering of flower flies. As I walked between the 2 plantings, I observed a conspicuous segregation of bee species.

To my left, a wide range of bumble bees bounced loudly among the many catmint blooms. To my proper, the Oregon sunshine shimmered with short-tongued species, together with halictids and andrenids, and plenty of cuckoo bees within the genus Nomada. The distinction in species was a invaluable reminder of why a collection of plant sorts is the gold commonplace for pollinator gardens. Completely different crops entice completely different bees, and no single plant is nice for all bees.

Many ground-dwelling bees visited the Oregon sunshine. Though I looked for nests within the space, I didn’t discover any.

Sunshine specifics

I hope a few of you’ll add Oregon sunshine to your future plantings. Eriophyllum lanatum is native to western North America and thrives in a wide range of local weather sorts, from coastal to subalpine. It responds to its setting, rising tall and spindly in wetter areas whereas remaining brief and compact in drier ones. Though this perennial appears finest tailored to drier soils, it will possibly thrive so long as soil drainage is quick and full.

At first look, the flowers resemble many different Asteraceae. The greenish-gray leaves are distinct, nonetheless, with a woolly coat and silvery sheen. The flowers, which bloom from Could to August (proper by our main nectar dearth) are yolk yellow with an orange-hued central disk.

In addition to offering nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies, and flower flies, a number of species of moth larvae eat the leaves. Deer and rabbits keep clear largely, so Oregon sunshine is a superb alternative in your subsequent pollinator planting.

Rusty
Honey Bee Suite

Kay’s honey bees additionally visited the flowers. This one has began to gather pollen and retailer it on her rear legs.

Observe: This publish comprises an affiliate hyperlink.

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