Small bees are interested in small flowers | Home & backyard

URBANA – While the bumblebee is probably the most well-known pollinator, pollinators come in a wide variety of shapes, types, and sizes.

“Many entomologists believe that the tiny sweat bee that nectarizes on your flowering grass is just as important to a healthy ecosystem as the better-known bumblebee and honey bee,” said Kelly Allsup, horticultural educator at the University of Illinois.

Gardeners and homeowners can make a place more attractive to Illinois’ small pollinators by planting miniature flowers. These little bees, about the size of an ant, love to pollinate miniature flowers in an urban setting, where there is usually more floral diversity than in rural areas.

GARDEN AND GARDEN: onions, bulbs, tubers, roots and the like

Small sweat bees, Lasioglossum, are dark brown, gray, black, or metallic with hairs on their legs and belly that give them a fuzzy appearance. These pollinating bees nest on bare ground with loose soil. They nest individually, but there can be multiple nests in an area.

“Small sweat bees are particularly attracted to a popular Illinois native shrub, button bush, or Cephalanthus occidentalis,” says Allsup.

In the middle of summer, the button bush features tiny tubular florets on a spherical white seed head, followed by a decorative red seed head. This large shrub grows to around 6 to 8 feet tall and can form thickets in wet environments.

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Yellow-faced or masked bees, Hylaeus, are dark bees that look like wasps with their yellow or white facial markings. Lacking the hair of the typical pollinating bees, these tiny bees ingest pollen and nectar and then choke the mixture back up in nesting cells to feed the larvae when they hatch.

This pollinator emerges in late spring when the vigorous flowers of the Golden Alexander, Zizia aurea, begin to bloom and remains active until the compound flowers of the goldenrod, Solidago spp, begin to fade. Yellow-faced bees pollinate the miniature white and purple flowers of the common mountain mint, Pycnanthemum virginianum. These small flowers are arranged in clusters that bloom in late summer.

Little carpenter bees, ceratina, which are black and metallic blue, dig up the centers of small stems in the garden. They have fine pollen-collecting hairs on their legs and carry pollen and nectar back to the nest within the stem.

Small carpenter bees are attracted to the small flowers of the spring-flowering pussy willow Salix spp and the summer-flowering yarrow Achillea millefolium. Yarrow flowers cannot pollinate themselves and rely on the services of small bees.

“When spring comes, instead of cutting your garden down to the ground, consider removing just the tip of the stems to encourage opportunistic bees, such as small house bees, to build nesting cells to hibernate,” says Allsup.

For more information on pollinator support, contact a local Extension horticultural expert at go.illinois.edu/ExtensionOffice.

My Town: Clint Walker’s memories of Coles County as pulled from the archives

Cosmic blue comics

Nov. 22, 1992, Journal Gazette, this photo from Cosmic Blue Comics in Mattoon; where I spent practically every Saturday afternoon for about two years. In this little back room, which you can see to the right of the Coca-Cola sign, the many, and I mean many, long boxes of old issues were kept. I still have my bagged copy of Tales of the Beanworld # 1 that I found there. Unfortunately this place is now only a “green space”.

Mattoon arcade

Mattoon arcade

Pictured is Bob Murray of Shelbyville from the Journal Gazette dated June 2, 1982 showing his dominance over the TRON arcade game in the “Carousel Time” arcade in Cross County Mall that later became Aladdin’s Castle and soon after nothing more was no more. I’ve spent almost every Saturday in this arcade, maybe with the exact same haircut. No overalls, however. I was more of an “Ocean Pacific” kid.

Icenogles

Icenogles

Pictured, November 28, 1988, Journal Gazette, Icenogles Grocery Store. Since we’re from Cooks Mills, we didn’t shop at Icenogle often … but when we did I knew as a kid that such a grocery store should be in a perfect world, and not just because it had hardwood floors, Comics on the magazine rack or loads of them, and I mean loads of trading cards wrapped in wax.

Cooks mills

Cooks mills

I had long since moved away from Cooks Mills when this showcase article about Adam’s Groceries was published in the June 13, 1998 Journal Gazette, but there was a time when I might very well have been one of those kids in this photo; because if it was summer and you had a bike and lived in Cooks Mills, you ended up there. Last report, they still had tab in the Pepsi brand cooler on the back. I’m seriously considering asking my money man if I can afford to reopen this place.

Mr. Music

Mr. Music

Pictured, July 16, 1987, Journal Gazette, that ad for Mister Music that was formerly located in the Cross County Mall. I didn’t buy records at that age, but at some point I would and it would all go under. If you think it doesn’t sound “cool” to hang out with your pals at a record store on a Friday night with a scorching driver’s license fresh in your wallet, you’re right. But it’s the best a geek like me can do. Wherever you are today, owner of Mister Music, please know that a Minutemen album I found in your cheap trash can changed my life.

Sound Source Guitar Throw

Sound Source Guitar Throw

Portrait of the author as a young man who wanted to throw a guitar through a target in this year’s Sound Source Music Guitar Throwing Contest on April 18, 1994, Journal Gazette. Check out my grunge era hoodie and yeah … look carefully, these are Air Jordans you see on my feet. Addendum: Despite what the cutting line says, I haven’t won a guitar.

Pictured, clipped from the online archives at JG-TC.com, photo dated April 18, 1994, Journal Gazette of Sound Source Music Guitar Throwing Contest winner and current JG-TC author, Clint Walker.

Vettes

Vettes

Here today, gone tomorrow, Vette’s Teen Club, June 20, 1991, Journal Gazette. I wasn’t “cool” enough to hang out at Vette in its “prime” and by “cool enough” I mean “not competent enough in parking lot fights”. If only I could crack it now.

FutureGen

FutureGen

FutureGen: The end of the beginning and finally the beginning of the end, December 19, 2007, JG-TC. I wish I had paid more attention back then. I probably should have read the paper.

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