TBC participating artist Joan Fox‘s pollinator gardens at her home.

Joan’s story–

When I was growing up, my favorite thing was wandering the field behind my house–seeing all the insects and flowers everywhere; today, I love to be in my front and back yards and the nearby desert wash. I have a traumatic brain injury from a car accident, and photography is the only thing that I can do when brain exhaustion hits. I have always loved bees and insects, but my camera’s eye led me closer to this world of beautiful beings I had never before fully seen. I created BeeStill to inspire love for bees and pollinators and to donate half of profits to bee conservancies.

I have created pollinator gardens in my front and back yards. They are certified by the North American Butterfly Association, with Monarch butterfly plants, and I will also certify through Xerces Society soon. This certification is what I always recommend for people who live in a neighborhood with a Home Owners Association (HOA). When our HOA said something about “weeds,” I said that they were not weeds and showed my certification document which is on file with them—​I have heard nothing else, even as I allow Sow Thistle to grow. 

Through my camera’s eye, I have fallen absolutely forever with all my heart in love with bees, and I have never looked back. They are on almost every flower. By now I know the blooming cycles (I love how flowers take turns blooming which is beneficial for them and for pollinators) and where the bees will be. My front and back yards are very small, but that doesn’t matter to insects and birds. I think of my yards as habitats, and pollinators and other beings seem to see them that way as well.

The native bees are very curious, wary, and very aware of me.  They fly up to me for a quick look and immediately fly away, and they do not stop to pose for me when I want their picture. Their pollination on some flowers (e.g., Black Dalea) is very swift. They fly to so many flowers and stay for such a short time that they are not easy to photograph.

Many native bees use buzz pollination which is very fast.  They have a different sounding buzz, and fly quite a bit more around flowers than honey bees do. They chase each other a lot and when they land, they usually stay still for only a very short time; however, when they land in a cactus flower, sometimes they stay for a while. 

Native bees have short active seasons. While the honey bees are out in the desert here pretty much year round, the native bees are out in Spring, Summer and Fall only. In the Spring and Summer there are many native bees on cactus flowers (especially Prickly Pear, Barrel and Cholla cactuses).

Here are some of the other native plants that I have in my gardens and their blooming seasons.

  • Fallugia – Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Red Dome Blanketflower – Fall and other times
  • Globe Mallow – Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Black Dalea – Fall
  • Woolly Butterfly Bee Bush – Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Fairy Duster – all year round
  • Desert Milkweed – Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Mealy Cup Salvia – Spring,  Fall
  • Blue Mistflower – Fall
  • Pine Needle Milkweed – Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Arizona Poppy – Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Yucca – Summer
  • Texas Sage – Spring, Summer

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