Hello! We have branches arching over a walkway leading to the front door of our home that is buzzing with carpenter bees. We all duck under the branches to make our way to and from the house. So bees or not, we’d like to cut the branches, although the constant presence of bees has me asking:
1. How will the bees respond as we attempt to cut the branches they occupy and cluster in?
2. What steps can we take to prevent any harm coming to us when we cut the branches?
I look forward to learning from you. Mahalo! Diana
The Sonoran carpenter bees are buzzing around looking for nesting sites in any exposed
wood such as under the eaves, doors and window sills or perhaps the walkway structure itself.
The male carpenter bees, yellowish brown in color, can be quite aggressive, hovering in front of people who are near their nests and causing unnecessary panic. A common behavior of the males is to approach people if they move quickly or wave a hand in the air. Scary as they may seem, these males are quite harmless since they lack stingers.
On the other hand, female carpenter bees, the black ones, can inflict a painful sting. But lucky for us, they seldom do unless they are extremely provoked such as attempts to handle or assault them.
To directly answer your first question, they will probably zoom back and forth scaring all but the bravest. But if you go about your business, there will most likely be no attack.
Question 2: Put on a beekeeper’s suit.
Is it possible to successfully grow gladiolus bulbs here? Is it a good idea to dig them up after they wither and die and put them in the vegetable bin of the fridge for next year? Would it even be a good idea to plant them in containers?
In Hawaii, gladiolus produce enjoyable blooms and are relatively easy to grow.
They require well-drained soils in a sunny location. Bulbs, actually a corm, which are 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, will produce full, attractive flower spikes. Small corms produce foliage but may not bloom. Planting depth varies with the size of the corms. Large corms should be planted 4 to 6 inches deep and 6 inches apart.
Small corms should be planted at a depth of 3 inches and about 2 inches apart. A general rule of thumb is plant deeper in sandy soils and shallower in heavy soils.
Staking may be required in windy areas and in rocky soils where it is difficult to dig a deep enough hole.
Unfortunately, gladiolus blooms can be plagued with thrips. These are tiny, slender black insects, about 1/25 of an inch long, obviously difficult to see with the naked eye. They will cause white streaking on the blooms as well as the leaves. Flowers can also become misshapen and discolored.
Note: These insects are the culprits which also cause silvery to brownish scarring on the surface of avocado and citrus fruit. This damage, however, does not harm the internal fruit quality and is strictly cosmetic.
To save the bulbs for next year’s planting, they can be dug up at the end of the season, cleaned off and stored in a dry, cool place. Pack bulbs in dry peat moss or wood shavings in a brown paper bag or cardboard box. In high rainfall areas, bulbs that are kept in the ground are susceptible to rot. Sometimes it is just better to buy new bulbs each year.
Certain hardy, spring flowering bulbs like tulips and hyacinth generally require a chilling period to produce blooms. When these bulbs are grown in mild winter climates, a six- to eight-week chilling period in the refrigerator is required.
Planting bulbs in large containers is a good idea. Containers will provide good drainage, and the bulbs are easily planted and dug up. And, if need be, containers can easily be moved out of the rain.
Hilo resident Nick Sakovich is a professor emeritus of the University of California. He has worked in the field of agriculture for 30 years. Email your questions to Sakovich at firstname.lastname@example.org.