H is for Honeybee

Protecting bees, both colonies and solitary bees, is very much in the news these days. If you can’t host a honeybee hive, perhaps you can put up a bee house for naive bees?

Or help all bees within a 2  mile radius of you by planting nectar and pollen flowers. Don’t know how to start? We found this great article on rethinking your lawn and garden to become a bee oasis from the Honeybee Conservancy Website.

And for our Motionless Monday post, bees are making it big in the wildlife statue realm…


One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

It’s a commonly blooming flower…

…what is it?

Leave your guesses in the comments!


Asters are still blooming this late into fall.

Some are white, some purple.

Sorry, I don’t pay enough attention to asters to know their names–they don’t produce anything we squirrels eat. But these late-blooming flowers are very important to an entire group of insects preparing for winter…

Bees! Both honeybees and solitary bees are still about on warm days seeking nectar.

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve – Bee Quiz!

Hey there!

I–Hickory–posted a little tribute to bees in my Monday’s column, then Nutmeg grabbed the idea and ran with it. She’s encouraged me to quiz our human readers at bit more with a few bee and bee relative photos we’ve received from one of our readers–thank you, Nancy!

So, here’s my idea. I’ll just number the photos and you humans can make your guesses for it you think it’s a honeybee, a different type of bee, a wasp or a hornet. And, if you are really into the identification, you can use the Native Bees of North America on Bug Guide to try your hand at a more specific identification. We have most of these identified, but not all of them–fair warning that I can’t claim we’re experts on bees and bee relatives.

For some general identification reminders, scroll back or click back to Friday’s post.

Even if you only know one or a few of them, guess! Use the number above the photo with your answer.

And here we go!


mystery bee #1


2. mystery bee


3. Mystery bee


4. Mystery bee


5. Mystery bee


6. Mystery bee


7 Mystery bee


8 mystery bee


9. Mystery bee


10 Mystery bee

I’ll check back later for your answers!


Hi folks! We had one brave human post answers to our quiz–thanks, Kalamain from the UK! If you checked the comments, Kalamain got some correct and some wrong, and two we now aren’t sure of! Told you, we are not experts. I will note those two, and please if anyone knows the correct identification, on those or any, please speak up! We are not at all bashful about correcting our mistakes.

#1 Yellow Bumble Bee

#2 Wasp on Lateflowering Thoroughwort (see the pinched ‘waist’–that usually indicates a wasp, though we squirrels just sort of gleaned that from somewhere and none of us can recall where.)

#3 Honeybee on aster (This is one we now question!)

#4 Diadasia, we believe, from looking at Bug Guide

#5 European Hornet (That biting mouth for eating the insects can seen!)

#6 Honeybee in rose

#7 Unknown native bee in a Morning Glory (Well, we agree it’s a bee, but we didn’t think it was the same species as #3 until Kalamain pointed that out…so it might be!)

#8 Paper wasp on a milkweed leaf

#9 Common Eastern Bumble Bee in a Thistle (Thought this might be a carpenter bee, but we, uh, didn’t know how to tell when the photo was taken..so didn’t get a look or a photo of the back. It looks a bit fuzzier than photos we’ve seen of carpenter bees, so we picked bumble bee.)

#10 Common Eastern Bumble Bee on a daisy (We believe! ID photos seem to have variable abdomens–from all black to striped, so we’re a bit confused.)

We’re looking forward to hearing if anyone disagrees or agrees–confirmation is good, as we squirrels have witnessed human birdwatchers doing over and over!


honey-bee-in-flightWe’ve heard a lot about honeybees in the news, and you humans are very concerned about their decline, but did you realize they aren’t even native? We squirrels kind of knew that, but it’s not like we keep track of your human activities. Even the ‘wild’ bees are escaped from domestic colonies brought to North America, according to the Bug Guide website’s article on bees. (Can you tell we love that website?)

First, the decline. It started in the mid 2000s and is still somewhat of a mystery. Read here for more on how Colony Collapse Disaster unfolded: Earthjustice’s The Perfect Crime: What’s Killing all the bees?

Second, take a gander at some honeybees to you can identify them.


Honeybee on a sneezeweed.


Honeybee on a Butterfly Bush


This Honeybee on a Zinnia has pollen sacs on his legs filled with pollen.

Have you ever seen bees swarm?


See all the little gold dots? Bees.


It takes them a bit to gather after they leave. See the thickening of bees on the branch on the upper right?


And the branch below it!


They take a bit to get organized into one swarm.


Then they collect and rest before taking off again. We squirrels don’t want to be in the treetops when this happens, but it’s an amazing thing to watch!

Just how important are honeybees? We squirrels believe our readers know, but if you still haven’t had enough of reading about bees, check out Earthjustice’s 11 Bee facts that will have you buzzing.

Bees–learn more about them!

So…bees. Last year, we squirrels began to notice more human news stories about bees. None of us here at The Squirrel Nutwork can claim to be bee experts, but we like them. We like that they cause good things to eat to grow. We’ve featured posts and photos about our neighborhood bee sightings.

Hickory poked us all with his column’s small tribute to the death of millions of bees in South Carolina, and we decided it’s time to just have some bee awareness here on our blog.

Did you know humans talk about bees on twitter? Back on July 30, 2016 we saw this post by @helpthebees.


Yo-boy, Lamb’s Ears, a plant that is easy for you humans to grow, and in fact, we had seen and talked about it in our neighborhood–in 2012 and 2013!

Lamb's Ears full plant

Seeing that tweet about Lamb’s Ears and the Wool Carder Bees led us to http://www.buzzaboutbees.net and a lot more information about bees!

Stop in and visit them! In the meantime, here’s a different bee on Lamb’s Ears, we think a Carpenter Bee. (Correction! It’s a Common Eastern Bumble Bee!)

Bee on Lamb's Ears

And this one below is also a Common Eastern Bumble Bee–see how the yellow goes down onto the abdomen, and it’s fuzzy?

Carpenter Bee resting

These two are Carpenter bees on Passion flowers. They have a dot of black on the center of the thorax.

Carpenter Bees with pollen on their backs

Can you see the pollen on their backs?

The Milkweed Community

Common Milkweed

The Squirrel Nutwork has featured Monarch caterpillars again and again on the Common Milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. But that’s not the only insect using the plant–flowers and leaves–for food, or to find food. Take a look at the many insects we squirrels have seen this summer on this stand of milkweed plants.



Honey Bees on Milkweed


Wasp on Milkweed


Ants on Milkweed

Ants. Lots of ants!


Net Beetle Calopteron

Large Milkweed Bug

Aphids on Milkweed


Ladybug Larvae

Ladybugs in the larval stage, which eat aphids!

Ladybug on Milkweed

Adult ladybugs, which also eat aphids.

Assasin Bug on Milkweed

Assasin Bugs

Banded Hairstreak on Milkweed

Banded Hairstreak

little red bugs on milkweed pod

And lastly a little red bug we where not able to identify until we came across the website, Restoring the Landscape With Native Plants. This is the larvae of the Large Milkweed Bug. If you have bugs on your milkweed, see if you might be able to identify them through Restoring the Landscape’s Milkweed page.

And remember, the bugs there are all good!

Gathering Pollen

Would you look at these full pollen sacs on this bee’s knees!  He’s raking in the yellow stuff from hawthorn flowers.

Honeybee on hawthorn flowers

The tree is a Hawthorn—of the Crataegus genus–but Miz Flora has told us not to bother to try to identify it from the many native and ornamental species.

Hawthorn in bloom