leaf cutter tragedy
Location: western Washington
August 15, 2011 8:33 pm
This year I planted hanging buckets of tomatoes and peppers. One of the planter types turned out to be disasterous as they failed one, after the other. The last one, with pepper plants well along, exposed one dead bee and around ten little cigar tips. I recovered the plant, then scooped up the (mostly peat) filling and cases into a ceramic planter. Is there anything I can do to encouage the larva to continue?
Signature: kimmiee

Leafcutter Bee Nest Tragedy

Hi kimmiee,
We are sorry to hear about both the loss of your produce garden and the resulting tragedy of the Leafcutter Bee nest.  You have probably done all that you can do.  We would suggest keeping the peat and the nest in a sheltered location and ensuring that it does not dry out and desiccate the nest.  As long as the individual cells were not damaged, there is a chance the bee larvae might survive.  Even if your well intentioned intervention fails, we are awarding you a Bug Humanitarian Award for your valiant efforts.

Before I accept this award, I’d like to thank all the little bees……
For providing me with beautiful flowers, tasty fruits, a myriad of grains, and hours of enjoyment in my garden.
;-> Kim

We love short and sweet acceptance speeches.

gardening blog update:  August 18, 2011
In our opinion, peppers and tomatoes should not be planted in hanging baskets except for ornamental purposes.  Do not expect the kind of harvest you will get out of tomatoes planted in the ground in a favorable location.

Update:  August 29, 2011
You said (re:Leaf cutter Tragedy)
gardening blog update:  August 18, 2011
“In our opinion, peppers and tomatoes should not be planted in hanging baskets except for ornamental purposes.  Do not expect the kind of harvest you will get out of tomatoes planted in the ground in a favorable location.”
Normally I would agree with you.  Living on the Western side of Northern Washington, it is often tricky, to get tomatoes to ripen.  This year was especially hard because unlike the rest of the country, we were very cool well into the middle of July.  So I’ve been pretty pleased that I am getting ripe tomatoes and, in fact, I’ve gotten two peppers off the plant that tried to suicide with the leaf cutters nest.  I stuffed it into an other (fabric) hanging pot and it has recovered better than I expected.  There are other pepper varieties in that planter, and while they have done fairly well vegitatively, I suspect I won’t get any peppers off them.  But, hope springs eternal, and if we get decent weather through October, there could be some.
The hanging planters have enabled me to place multiple plants in a small corner of the yard which achieves maximum sun exposure.  I’ve been religious about watering them solidly every day.

Kim’s Hanging Tomato Plant

Thanks for the update Kim.  Watering a hanging basket would be an important factor in getting a yield out of plants.  We did not mean to imply that vegetables should not be grown in hanging baskets, just that planting in the ground will most likely give larger plants and a better harvest.  Did you get positive results with the Leafcutter Bee nest relocation?

Update:  August 31, 2011
All I can say regarding the nest is that some of the tubes are still intact.  I sort of assumed that they may not hatch (fledge? emerge?) until next spring, or at all.  The peat was disturbed right after I picked them up by the squirrels in the yard, and a couple of the tubes were ripped open but I’ve now inverted the bowl and propped it to provide both cover and ventilation…  It is in a brick planter, under an evergreen.  So, it’s not being dried out, and it doesn’t get enough direct light to bake… But I haven’t disturbed it since to inspect the tubes.  Maybe this weekend I’ll work up the courage to look and see if I can identify any changes….

Thanks for the update.  Let us know if there is any activity next spring.

Update:  September 9, 2011
I said I would look, so I did.  What I found was… not much.  It appears that most of the wonderful cigar tips were just gone, although I did see an occasional hint of a tube or the lacy leftovers of one of the cut pieces.  I also found the little beads you see in the picture.  Again, not knowing enough about the life cycle, I’m not sure at what I am looking.
I know in some of the the original tubes which were destroyed, there was a definite layering effect visible which I took to be piled up pollen with an egg or larva on top.  I should have attempted a picture of that.  These don’t seem to be the same, is it a pupa?
If so, I would surmise at least some of the original group are already out there pollinating again.

Is this related to the Leafcutter Bees?

Hi Kim,
We are not certain what your new photo depicts, but we will post the photo and try to do some research.  This might not even be related to the Bees.


Location: Washington

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