Welcome to our weekly series: Friday’s Farm Fauna. Life abounds at our training farm, and it’s not just the fresh veggies, fruit, and flowers our farmers grow. From wild turkeys to snapping turtles to bumblebees, every Friday, we share a glimpse of the hidden life on our farm.One of my fascinations with beekeeping is the amount of creatures who make their home in or near beehives. I regularly discover hijackers, scavengers, and even predators as I go about tending to the bees at our farm. One day, I removed the top cover of the hive and found this orbweaver spider snuggled up underneath. She’s a close relative of the garden spider that you may have run across on your farm or in your garden. Thanks to UNL’s Entomology Department, there are several photos of Nebraska’s orbweavers to help identify this spider. Unfortunately, none of the photos look like this one, so I’ll have to content myself to simply call it an orbweaver.
Though I found her hiding in a beehive, this spider (and those like her) make their living by spinning webs to catch flying insects. My guess is that she was either feasting on unsuspecting bees or on flies attracted to the scent of honey. Her beauty makes her a welcome addition to our farm, and she and her children help manage the pest pressure in our vegetable fields, even if they nab one or two of our pollinators in the process.