The moment I found the hive, I had a hunch. And while I’ll never really have conclusive proof, I still have my suspicions and some interesting new natives in my backyard.
The story goes like this:
I have several plum trees, and they have flowered for several years now, but each year the number of plums the trees produced was a pittance. On our best year, I think we got four. The same goes for my cherry tree.
All of a sudden this year I noticed that the trees have scads of small plums hanging on most every branch. I thought the reason was that the trees had matured to the point where they were able to produce fruit, but I was mowing the lawn and came up with another possible answer.
I was mowing beside a birdhouse that hangs on my fence. I turned off the mower and to my surprise I could hear the birdhouse humming.
My instant reaction was, “Oh no.”
I looked in the hole on the front of the birdfeeder and saw what looked like little bumblebees, but a little more than half the size of the ones I grew up with in the Midwest. They had coloration fairly typical for a bumblebee with one striking difference, their butts were deep orange.
With some help from the Internet and Scott Black, Executive Director at The Xerces Society, my “Oh no” turned into “Excellent.”