Saturday, May 01, 2010

Onion, Thyme and Bees

Back in March, when my garden began to revive after that cold, cold winter, I had posted a picture of the first bud of 2009. It wasn't a crocus or a daffodil, as you might expect - no, it was on a green onion that had overwintered. I've been watching them come up since then - they weren't in a particular rush! 2 weeks ago, they were just beginning to split their papery coverings, as shown above.

Steve the Paddling Chef told me that the proper kitchen-gardener thing to do would be cut them off so that the onions would focus on bulbing out their roots. I couldn't do it though, like last year's experiment with the runaway chard, I was just too curious to see what was going to happen.

This week, I found out! Look, isn't it spectacular?

For size comparison -- oops, adding this note after some confusion was expressed in the comments: this is a Matchbox car that I found half-buried by my plot:

The thyme I showed in that March picture is flowering as well:

And I'm not sure why I didn't take a picture but in the next plot over, there are some collards that made it through the winter & they are putting on a show that's almost forsythian in nature. Who'd a thunk?

While I was taking pictures of the onion blooms, I noticed that a bee was working on them - but it was a kind of bee I'd never seen before. Not honey, not bumble, but the tiniest bee I've ever seen. I might have mistaken it for a fly if it hadn't been behaving in such a perfectly apian manner, and if I hadn't been familiarized with the idea that there are more than 2 kinds of bees by neighbor & fellow blogger "Xris".

I think it's a sweat bee - not a very attractive name for a not unnattractive little insect, but apparently they are quite fond of salt & if you are sweating on a hot day, they may try to land on you & lick some off!

I began to learn about native American bees when Xris the Flatbush Gardener (actually a neighbor of mine) introduced his readers to the cellophane bees who had taken up residence in his garden. He's got several interesting posts about bees of different types - including an interesting rant about how we could be less dependent on the health & well-being of our "livestock" honeybees if we'd paid more attention to maintaining habitat for the range of bees who are native to this country. For that, and some great pictures & video of his cellophane bees, click here!


Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

I like "For size comparison ..." using an unknown object of unknown size! Is that a toy car?!

There are many Allium species, the onion/garlic genus, grown for their ornamental uses in the garden, and you can see why.

A great resource for getting help identifying insects is BugGuide. That's how I got an id on my Cellophane Bees.

bonnie said...

Yes, it's a Matchbox car! I should have held it at a bit of an angle so that the wheels showed.

I was glad to see your cellophane bees are doing so well, and enjoyed spotting another native out at the club today. Thanks for cluing me in on these locals!

Baydog said...

Bonnie: I thought it was a first generation bluetooth or one of those blood-sugar monitors.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Bonnie: Check out the Great Pollinator Project. Lots of info on bees, including keys to identification.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bonnie said...

Oh no, you didn't click it, did you? Chinese spam has become something of a running gag here since I am actually a fan of a Hawaiian-Japanese fusion dish called Spam Musubi - but I get rid of them as fast as I can. Very annoying & I wish Blogger would do something to beef up the spam tests.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

That's why I moderate comments.

Spam checks are ineffective because they pay people to solve the captchas.

clairesgarden said...

I like things to flower, not all the time but its interesting and lets nature have a chance.

Salt Water said...

Wow! Just stopped by out of boredom and found this post with these comments on bees, how nice. We have lost most of our honey bees here in Crescent City Ca. Yet we have lots of bumble bees. They are so interesting to me, that I have quit using the rototiller and started using shovel only methods of dirt management. They make very beautiful holes in the ground because they live there. I am going to search some of your links to see if I can improve my strategy for turning the dirt without hurting them. Thanks once again for an amazing blog.

sharp green pencil said...

Hi this is a lovely post about herbs and bees. I write a blog which is mostly about bees right now, both USA and UK . the native bees are wonderful and so important