Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Yesterday Soni and I were presenters at the Outdoor Discovery Program held at Platte River State Park.  The weather was perfect, sunny, with a slight breeze. We taught 4th graders about pollinators and what they need for a habitat. We discussed one out of every three bites of food we eat is there because of pollinators. We asked the youth if they could make a list of pollinators and they easily mentioned bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds. The kids were surprised to learn that flies and beetles could be pollinators too. We talked about native solitary bees and showed them bee houses.The youth were able to view pollinators in action since it was a beautiful spring day and there were blooming wild plums near our site.  The kids were provided journals so they could record their observations. Thank you Nebraska Game and Parks for providing youth this wonderful educational opportunity.

M J

Waiting for kids to arrive.

Waiting for kids to arrive.

New Plant Tags

Finally a sunny day!  I was very grateful for the rain we received, but it is really nice to see the sun.  The wild plums are blooming in the habitat and they smell glorious. We ordered new plant tags to label our native plants.  It is important that our pollinator habitat remain a learning tool.  By labeling our native plants, visitors will be able to learn how attractive native plants can be in the landscape and hopefully plant them in their gardens.

M J

New plant label in pollinator habitat.

New plant label in pollinator habitat.

Wild plum blooming near pollinator habitat.

Wild plum blooming near pollinator habitat

Spring in the Pollinator Habitat!

Spring officially begins with the vernal equinox today.  We are so ready for spring weather.  Plants are just starting to green up in the habitat.  The purple poppy mallow is starting to grow.  All winter I have kept the sunflower seed bird feeders and finch sock feeders filled for our habitat bird population.  We have seen northern cardinal, American goldfinch, purple finch and dark-eyed junco visiting our feeders. In the evenings, raccoons, skunks, rabbits and deer have been seen on our live cam.  We are pleased so much wildlife is visiting our habitat.  We look forward to seeing our insect pollinators soon.

MJ

Purple poppy mallow growing in the habitat.

Purple poppy mallow growing in the habitat.

Habitat view and bird feeders in early February.

Habitat view and bird feeders in early February.

Are You Working on Your Native Bee Nest Boxes?

Bee Nest Box Structure - Bee Hotel

Bee Nest Box for the Cherry Creek Habitat

Now’s a great time to be working on your native bee nesting blocks and insect hotels. Make your structures simple or complex, basic or creative. The native bees won’t care – you’ll just want to provide a variety of hole sizes in the blocks or tubes you provide.

Check out Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape. This resource also includes directions on how to make native bee nesting blocks. Once you’ve made your nesting blocks/structures, you can set those out in your landscape this spring.

Speaking of spring…It won’t be long and we’ll start to see “spring” in the Cherry Creek Habitat. You can enjoy the seasons with us on the live cam. The native bee nesting box structure and insect hotel are on the north side of the habitat – near the back of the camera view. Enjoy – watch live here.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

New Year Resolution

Here is a new year resolution I plan to keep.  Plant more native plants. We have over 3o native plants growing in our habitat.  We hope to plant more this spring. Here is a list of a few that we have growing.  Hope it will inspire you to plant more natives this year.

Smooth aster in the habitat.

Smooth aster in the habitat.


Pasque flower Anemone patens
Butterfly milkweed Asclepias tuberosa
Common milkweed Asclepias syriaca
Whorled milkweed Asclepias verticillata
Swamp milkweed Asclepias incarnata
Pitcher sage Salvia azurea
Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea
Plains coreopsis Coreopsis tinctoria
Smooth aster Aster laevis
Spiked gayfeather Liatris spicata
Rough gayfeather Liatris aspera
Dotted gayfeather Liatris punctata
Thickspike gayfeather Liatris pycnostachya
Common yarrow Achillea millefolium
Hoary vervain Verbena stricta
Purple poppy mallow Callirhoe involucrata
Prairie aster Aster turbinellus

Happy New Year!

MJ

Butterfly Byway in Nebraska!

Butterfly Byway poster by Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition.

Butterfly Byway poster by Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition.

I received an early Christmas present from my husband.  I framed this fabulous poster and hung it in my office.  I love that our state is promoting the great assets we have here in Nebraska. Assets that have always been here and will continue to be here if we are good stewards. There are 12 posters in the collection.  Go to Visit The Prairie at http://visittheprairie.com/ to see the collection and order a poster or postcards.  My husband picked up my poster at Hardin Hall here in Lincoln (33rd & Holdrege). The Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition is committed to promoting environmental conservation and building thriving communities through nature-based tourism in the Great Plains. The Coalition includes both non-profit and for-profit members and is coordinated by staff at the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

MJ

Sunflower Seed Feeders for the Habitat

Today sunflower seed bird feeders were placed in the habitat.  Soni found sturdy metal brackets to hold the bird feeders I obtained for the habitat.  Chris installed the brackets on our blue pole and helped me hang the feeders after I filled them with sunflower seeds. Thank you Chris! The cardinals, juncos and other birds in the area will appreciate the feeders this winter.

MJ

Sunflower seed feeders added to habitat.

Sunflower seed feeders added to habitat.

Close up view of sunflower seed feeder.

Close up view of sunflower seed feeder.

Give Thanks to Pollinators

As we sit down with family and friends to enjoy our Thanksgiving meal, we need to remember one out of every three bites of food we eat is there because of pollinators.

A list of just a few pollinated foods:

Cranberries-pollinated by over 40 native bees and bumblebees

Pumpkin-squash and gourd bees, bumblebees

Apples-honey bee, blue mason orchard bees

Cherry-solitary bees, bumblebees, honey bees

Blueberries-bees, bumblebees

Raspberries-bees, bumblebees, flies

Melons-bees

Vanilla-bees

Coffee-bees and flies

Chocolate-bees and flies

MJ

Bumble Bee

Bumblebees pollinate pumpkins and cherries.

Nature’s birdfeeders

Rudbeckia flower heads provide food for birds in the winter.

Rudbeckia flower heads provide food for birds in the winter.

Leave seed heads standing in the landscape over the winter.  The dried seed heads of flowers like purple coneflower, Rudbeckia and sunflowers are nature’s birdfeeders. Junco and cardinals have been visiting the habitat and eating sunflower seeds. We have three squirrels that visit too.  If you have pumpkins left over from a fall display, put them outside for wildlife.  Squirrels and deer will be happy to feed on them.

MJ

Thank you Gary

This week our UNL Extension unit leader in Lancaster County Gary Bergman is retiring. We want to thank him for his years of leadership and support for creating the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. After Soni and I returned from attending BOW-Becoming an Outdoor Woman in the fall of 2012, we were inspired to build a structure for pollinators and beneficial insects. We approached Gary about this project, explained our idea and its educational value. As we looked over a possible location, it became clear that we had available space behind the Extension office. The area was large enough to plant a pollinator habitat too and Gary was immediately supportive of the idea. He encouraged us to develop a plan and share it with the Extension Board members. Along the way he has helped with design ideas and always encouraged us to expand our vision. We have been grateful for Gary’s support and the opportunity to create a habitat that is educational to people and beneficial to pollinators.
MJ

Gary helping with the first truck load of soil for the new habitat in May 2013.

Gary helping with the first truck load of soil for the new habitat in May 2013.