Category: Weeds

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Ironweed specialist.  Well at least the female is a specialist in that she feeds here babies the bright white pollen of this group of plants.  If you plant Ironweed in your garden Melissodes denticulatus will show up they are that common (ironweed is common too).  The male is distinctive because it has pale offwhite instead of yellow markings on its face and those markings  don’t go all the way to the upper sutures of the clypeus.  … but you knew that.  Photo by Erick Hernandez.

Bees are small.  It doesn’t take that much pollen and nectar to raise a baby bee.  One clump of flowers is enough to support several bees.  Look around.  Are you supporting flowers….and bees.  Question lawns.


Number 19 in our series of postings and part of our CAMPAIGN TO KNOW YOUR WILD BEES. 

Here we illuminate the problem that many gardeners face… What do I plant? Weeds and other garden plants sometimes attract tons of bees, is this helpful? Well, it is helpful in that many bees come to these plants to forage on pollen and even the specialist bees will come to for the quick energy that nectar provides . However, similar to birdfeeders, most of these plants are feeding the bees that are doing quite well; the sparrow and pigeon bees if you will. Native plants, on the other hand, have had millions of years to synchronize with the local wild bee fauna. As such, there’s a great deal of specialization and general community membership that goes beyond bees, these are plants that have numerous associations with other native denizens of our wild scapes, other insects, bacteria, fungi and interplay with plant communities that foster many uncommon and rare species. Without these native plants a good deal of our native bees would disappear and bringing with them would be many other plants and animals. So, it makes most sense to start your gardens with native plants and backfill with some of the traditional plants that you will love.