Tag Archives: bumble bee

misumena vatia

The other day as we parked in the driveway and walked past our little front yard garden Jess noticed in our California poppies a little yellow spider that had captured a bumblebee.

We felt bad for the little bumblebee but mostly we were struck by the sight of this bright yellow spider with little stripes of red down its side. In almost 35 years of living in the northwest I don’t recall ever seeing one of these little guys.

I quickly found the wiki for misumena vatia, also called the flower crab spider or goldenrod crab spider. Maybe I had seen one before, because they aren’t always yellow. They can change at will from white to yellow to camouflage themselves and are often found near goldenrod. So how is it hanging out in our bright orange poppies?

Jess quickly reminded me that we do have a yellow flower nearby. We had a plant that popped up in that container that we let go for months in case it was one of many varieties of poppy seeds Jess had planted around the yard for her wife (me) who loves poppies. The thing got huge and took ages to flower. We talked about just yanking it several times, but we always let it be just in case. Then it finally formed little clusters of buds and clearly was not a poppy.

Maybe these tiny little flowers are home to our bee eating spider friend.

So is it goldenrod? Unfortunately not. Goldenrod is edible and medicinal and even considered a sign of luck, but we think we have this plant now figured for tansy ragwort, a noxious weed. How funny that we may have never seen this sight if we hadn’t given that weed a home for all these months? Seems like a bit of luck if you ask me.

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Bees at Alcatraz

When we get busy, updating the blog is the first thing to fall off the “honey do” list. I guess that’s normal. We had Spring Break (WhoOoO) and took a 1700 mile road trip to Northern California so we could feel the sun on our faces. It is well-documented that we really love road trips. I got sunburned, of course, and it was a little difficult to come home to our soggy, gray town. But in California in April, the sun shines. The weather was warm, and everything is growing, blooming & buzzing. Do you know how magical that is to those of us under the constant PNW drizzle? Very magical.

While in San Francisco, we took an Alcatraz Cruise over to The Rock. The decaying prison facility & history are interesting, but what I really loved was the Alcatraz Island garden. The Army started bringing dirt to the barren rock island in the 1850s, back when it was Fort Alcatraz. People who lived on the island brought plants from home, and prisoners worked on gardens over the years. When the island was abandoned a few decades ago, many transplants escaped. Lush gardens have taken over, and a group of volunteers is in the process of restoring them. The Alcatraz gardens were my favorite thing on our trip and I can’t stop talking about them.

Alcatraz is an island, of course, so I wasn’t surprised that we didn’t see honey bees. The island might be a great place for a bee hive, but the National Park Service probably isn’t maintaining one and honey bees are not known for their trips across bodies of water. However, we found bumble bees hard at work in the old prison. Bumble bees are suited to life on Alcatraz. They don’t need humans meddling and there’s plenty of food.

I took a photo of a bumble bee with the golden gate bridge in the background. I believe this flower is Pride of Madeira, but please tell me if I’m wrong. Levi identified this bumble bee as Bombus bombus, which is kind of a nerd joke, like “I know it’s a bumble bee but I don’t know what kind because there are hundreds of them.”

Back at the dock, the National Park Service has container gardens featuring many of the plants from the Alcatraz Island Gardens. The container gardens give you a feeling of continuity on both sides of the boat ride, like a preview of the gardens you’re going to see while you’re waiting in line for the boat. I stopped to check out the Pride of Madeira potted up on the dock. No surprise — I found a honey bee working the flowers at Pier 33. My book research indicates the flower is a good nectar source for bees, and my field research seems consistent with that finding.

Bees. They’re pretty much everywhere, thankfully.

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rain, rain go away

Not to complain or anything, but I think we could use a sunny streak here in Olympia, WA. It has been a less than stellar spring for Pacific Northwest gardeners. The biggest problem I’m facing is being behind on building the last of our beds due mostly to rain, rain, and more rain. At least our brassicas are going to town. Check out our broccoli:

And I scored some cheap vintage gnomes to try to cheer up our yard.

Our peas have blossoms!

Our bees have been hiding out a lot due to the cold, but at least when they come out they can find the borage we planted for them is ready.

Really this is supposed to be a post about something other than bees, but these bumble bees are all over our yard and they are adorable.

In this mostly non-food corner of our yard, I love the mix of different shades of green. There is some chocolate mint in there for good measure (and do you need any, by the way? or do you want to come over for mojitos?), but a couple of my favorites are covering the ground. My childhood nostalgia for lambs ear is being fulfilled, as is my love of succulents.

These bright lime green guys are probably the one plant our yard came with that I truly love.

xo Krista

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