On Thursday, July 24th, the Urban Pollination Project ( http://nwpollination.org ) came to Unpaving Paradise and spoke with those of us able to be there at 3 in the afternoon about bees. Gardener Jeff Stallman had organized the workshop, and Tessa Forbes lead a small group of urban pollinators in presenting. They brought some photographs and a box of specimens, gave a presentation, and then walked us around the community garden stopping to visit pollinators in action.
I discovered that I really didn't know much about bees. I didn't know, for instance, that bumble bees are not only the most common local pollinators but they are also the only bees that can "buzz" (vibrate) tomato flowers to gather their pollen. Bees seem to prefer blue-violet colored flowers (although tomato flowers are yellow) and don't see the color red at all. Bees aren't very aggressive, unlike wasps, many of which look a lot like bees. The bumble bees we saw in the garden use holes in the ground or in tree branches to nest and only make enough honey to feed their young. I'm not good at Latin, but the U.P. website has lots of information including the proper names of various bees. It was intriguing to see that there are some very small bees as well as the more familiar honey and bumble bees.
The timing for the workshop (which was open to the public) was pretty much chosen by the Urban Pollinator folks themselves. (No evening or weekend hours.) We're hoping we can do this again next year at a time when more people can come.