by Charlene Burgi
This past balmy weekend saw many dormant perennials come to life, and the garden in Lassen was literally humming. Much to our delight, the steady buzz came in the form of big black and yellow fuzzy bumblebees. The blooming daffodils and daphne seemed to draw dozens of these little friends in to partake of the pollen that would provide sustenance for the bumblebee’s survival.
Their presence evoked memories from visiting friends about the bumblebees found in their gardens in the Tomales area years ago. Songs were sung about the baby bumblebee and stories were shared about the fear of the sting, despite realizing these were the gentle giants of the insect world.
It seemed like years since I had last seen these wonderful pollinators in Marin. I couldn’t help but wonder why these insects failed to appear in my garden there. Was I too busy to notice? Or was the surrounding environment not conducive for a healthy life? The garden was located across the street from wetlands and open space. Reviewing the Bay-Friendly teachings for attracting beneficial insects, I designed the garden for year-round flowers that would offer access to pollen. Areas were intentionally left open for nests, and water features were carefully situated to attract and encourage beneficial insects. The garden was never treated with insecticides. The garden drew many other beneficials, but the question remained: Why had it been so long since a bumblebee appeared? And why are there an abundance of bumblebees in the middle of the farmland community of Lassen?
I asked a few garden friends about their findings and confirmed the reduced number of bumblebees seen in their Bay Area gardens. Additional research revealed that there has been a decline in the bumblebee population, although I found little specific information regarding the cause. I am curious. Have you seen these little pollinators frequenting your garden? Can you speculate what might have happened to the bumblebee population? What might you suggest to encourage their resurgence?
Join Us for These Upcoming Events!
This week marked 100 years since MMWD was chartered as the first municipal water district in California. To celebrate and say “Thank You!” to our customers, we invite you to join us for an Open House on Saturday, May 5, 10:00 a.m. to noon in our corporation yard at 220 Tamal Vista Boulevard in Corte Madera. Plan to bring the whole family and enjoy free tours, demonstrations, historical displays, kids’ activities and refreshments.
Another event not to be missed is the Marin Bay-Friendly Garden Tour on Saturday, May 19. The beautiful gardens on this self-guided tour will inspire you with low-water-use and native plants, backyard farming, wildlife habitat, lawn conversions, rainwater harvesting and more. Registration is $10 and includes the tour guidebook with directions, garden descriptions and entrance tickets for your choice of gardens. Sign up TODAY to also enjoy the Napa Bay-Friendly Tour on May 6!