We’re adding bees to the Thrasher Studio Micro Farm this year. Part of the reason that occurred is not only the need for Bees — ala no bees, no food.
I noticed there was not enough bees or other pollinators this past growing season. The year before it seemed the bees were swarming to our beds and plants; but this year, when the crops were even more plentiful, there were not enough. I’ll blog separately about our beekeeping ventures; but, for now, I want to talk about the other bugs I noticed while trying to count the bees and figure out why I only harvested about six eggplants all season. All that while having even more “attractive” plants for the pollinators, especially bees, including coneflower, sunflowers, bee balm, fever few, marigolds, calendula, and lavender.
Basically, though, bugs in your garden fall into a few categories. They are harmless, pollinators, good predators, and pests. Pests will get their own blog post. Today, we’re going to look at the good, the bad, and the banal.
Some of the insects in my garden were hard to photograph, like the few dragonflies, ladybugs, and butterflies.
Dragonflies and ladybugs eat pests in your garden, and you never want to chase them out. Swallowtails are the most frequent of the butterfly visitors. This year I’m planting milkweed to try to attract others. I’m still trying to figure out where to plant that. That’s another blog post.
Let’s just start with the photos and we’ll go from there…
This guy here is a fly disguised as a bee. A Bee Fly as they are known aren’t necessarily bad. They are very good pollinators; however, many species will lay their eggs in a bee nest (especially bumble bee nests) and then the larva eat their way out, killing the bumble bees. No way to tell where these buggers are hiding, so you can just hope that nature allows both to live. Notice the huge eyes and only two wings on this Bee Fly. Almost non-existent antennae tell you it’s a Bee Fly. It does look cool on the feverfew, however.
This is a typical Yellow Jacket wasp. This is a character that a friend of mine was convinced was a bee and when she found a nest of them wanted the exterminator to just move them and not eradicate them. I kindly explained to her that these guys are just jerks (okay, I was more colorful than that), and you want them out, out, out of your garden. They are parasitic and can become highly aggressive. Some gardeners don’t mind them, because one wasp will liquefy two pounds of caterpillars, flies, and other insects in one day. Problem is they aren’t picky and they can eat your beneficial ones, too. I won’t shoo one out of my garden (remember they are aggressive), but I won’t tolerate nests on my property. Unlike honeybees, wasps may sting over and over again. Like I said, it’s the jerk of the garden.