Week of April 20, 2024 – April 27, 2024

Catherine McLaughlin, Environmental Educator at Baltimore Woods

by Katie McLaughlin, Environmental Educator

April weather is predictable in the fact that you don’t know if you will have a rainy spring day, or a warm sunny day. I find myself looking forward to both types of days for different reasons. Rain filled days are full of salamander and frog movement, or provide a needed drink to our ephemeral spring flowers. Sunny days are when I search for something different buzzing around.

The return of insects.

Some of the first I came across this season were miner bees flying close to the ground that have made their nests along the field to forest trail. These bees are solitary, and non-aggressive. But if you have traveled along this section of trail, you might think wait! It feels like there are hundreds of these bees along the trail. How can they be solitary? Miner bees nest close to their flower resources and to make it a little easier for mating. While these nests are so close together, the female bees take care of their offspring by themselves.

Miner bees are far from the only solitary bee we have flying around Baltimore Woods. In fact it is estimated that 80% of bees in New York are solitary. This includes digger bees like the miner bee, cavity nesters like mason bees, or even cleptoparasitic bees who lay eggs in other bees nests.

Many of these bees are large contributors to pollination, without them our own food sources would be limited. We often take our insects for granted, either because we don’t see them or perhaps they annoy us or scare us. All of nature is connected – even those pesky horse flies have a role other than to bite us and make us itch.

If you come across the bees on a warm day on the trail, Bee Nice! They are contributing to our ecosystem. Be mindful and tread gently. Perhaps tell them thanks for the hard work as you stroll to the pond.

Want to help solitary bees out? You can put out bee houses just like a bird house!