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Peponapis STICK OUT UR TONGUE | by Ellen Bulger
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Peponapis STICK OUT UR TONGUE

ODC ZOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

This is a squash bee. Bees in this genus pollinate squash (summer & winter squash) and pumpkins and that is it. They don't so much as sample pollen from other plants, not even cucumbers or melons, which are in a different genus from squash and pumpkins! (Talk about picky eaters).

 

Pepos are, like many bees, solitary bees. They live on their own alone, not in hives. So the big challenge for the male is to find a female to woo. They have a very clever way to find their fuzzy little love object. They stake out a squash blossom. Heck, the males sleep in squash blossoms. So if you are interested in native pollinators and you like taking pictures of interesting bees, and you have access to a vegetable plot this summer, take a peek in some squash blossoms to find Pepo boys setting themselves up for a romantic ambush.

 

If you spend enough time looking at bees, you'll start to notice the ones that are not honey bees. So if you see a little blonde bee in a pumpkin or zucchini flower, one with quite long antennae, then it's probably a Pepo.

 

A Pepo lookin' for love.

 

(An explanation about the pin. This is a specimen that was collected by researchers. Bees are at risk, as are many other organisms. Humans give some lip service to being concerned about this, but mostly we do nothing as countless species become extinct. We keep our pointless lawns, we use all kinds of idiotic chemicals to do all kinds of pointless things from making our houses neurotically clean to changing our appearance to comform to the current mode.

 

And la la la, finger in our ears, stuff dies. Extinct is forever, ever, unhappily ever after. Beetles, springtails, snails, birds, ferns, mosses, whatever, it's all going.

 

Well guess what, we CAN'T ignore the bees. We'll get REALLY hungry if the bees go because they pollinate at least a third of our food supply. You want fruits, vegetables, nuts? Then you better love a bee.

 

Honey bees are the work force for large industrial farming. Used and abused, hauled from place to place and exposed to more and more horrid pesticides, they can't go on strike. They can simply die. And that they do.

 

There are researchers working to help the honey bee. They might well be successful. But they might not.

 

But there are scientists who are studying other bees, native bees, solitary bees. It turns out they already do a huge amount of pollination on farms where circumstances allow them to thrive. Are they vulnerable to the same dangers that are killing the honey bees? If the honey bees go, can we count on these animals to save, if not our bacon, then at least the tomato and lettuce in that BLT and even Mom's apple pie?

 

How do we help them? What wild bees live on our farms? What are they pollinating? What do they need to thrive? What kind of habitat for nesting and how much and how close to the crops? These are all things we want to know, we NEED to know.

 

And you can't study them by just taking pictures. You have to catch some and kill them in order to identify them. Because the taxonomy is tricky. You often have to look at very tiny details under a very powerful microscope.

 

If you are interested in this, you can go here and learn more: www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Apoidea

 

And in the meantime, don't spray your lawn and garden. Heck don't feel that everything has to be a lawn. Lawns are biological deserts. They're more Mordor than the Shire. Let some places be wild, even if it is just a tiny patch that you leave alone behind the garage. Something, anything. They don't need much space, but they need homes.

 

And then, guess what, you'll be HELPING. And how? By letting go of the crazy tidy suburban lawn thing over every inch of ground. By working less! How cool is that?

 

Make this a better world by slacking off! U CAN DO EEET!!!!)

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Taken on March 31, 2011