Bees Need a Drink Too!

Its HOT!  Bees and other pollinators need fresh water to drink too.  Add a bee water station in your yard for bees and other animals to get a drink.  Bird baths work fine too.  Place a rock in the water station for the insects to land on when they visit.

MJ

Bee water station in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

Bee water station in Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

Honey bee visiting a birdbath.

Honey bee visiting a birdbath.

What is Blooming in the Habitat

Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) is one of my favorite native wildflowers.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

It is blooming in the habitat now.  The plant has beautiful purple-blue flowers and blooms for at least 6 weeks.  It gets 2 feet tall and prefers drier soil conditions.  I always see bumblebees visiting the flowers, as well as butterflies and solitary bees.

MJ

Monarch Caterpillars

In the pollinator habitat today I notice a Monarch caterpillar feeding on a swamp milkweed flower. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs only on milkweed plants.  Swamp milkweed is blooming now and the pink flowers are very attractive. We also have butterfly, common and whorled milkweeds growing in the habitat. Consider adding milkweeds to your perennial flower beds.

Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.

Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.

The federal government in February, pledged $3.2 million to help save the monarch butterfly.  In recent years, the species has experienced a 90 percent decline in population, with the lowest recorded population occurring in 2013-2014.

About $2 million will restore more than 200,000 acres of habitat from California to the mid-west, including approximately 750 schoolyard habitats and pollinator gardens. The rest will be used to start a conservation fund, the first dedicated solely to monarchs, that will provide grants to farmers and other landowners to conserve habitat.

This is exciting news. These gardens will benefit all pollinators and help raise awareness of habitat protection.

MJ

4-H Youth and Habitat Discovery

This morning Soni and I taught 4-H youth about pollinators in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. All week our office is hosting Clover College. For our Habitat Discovery session, youth did nature journaling, planted native plants in the habitat, planted sunflower seeds, installed a bee water source and made bee nesting tubes bundles for the bee nest box structure and insect hotel. At the end of the session the youth made nature journals and took home their own bee nest box to put in their landscape. Spending time educating youth about pollinators was a great way to finish Pollinator Week!

MJ

Youth journaling in habitat.

Youth journaling in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

New Educational Signs

New pollinator sign installed at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

New pollinator sign installed at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

We are so excited to have our new educational signs installed at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  The wet weather had slowed out progress this spring.  With Chris’s help we were finally able to get them in place for Pollinator Week.

Soni and I had taken hundreds of pictures last year of native plants and pollinators we have in the habitat.  We spent most of the winter months looking over our pictures and deciding what educational information we wanted to be included on our signs.  Vicki, our Extension media specialist, did a fantastic job designing our signs and helping us share our message to those that visit our pollinator habitat.

MJ

Educational sign at the west entrance of the pollinator habitat.

Educational sign at the west entrance of the pollinator habitat.

Happy Pollinator Week!

Pollinator Week is June 15-21, 2015.  There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week and we hope you will participate by helping pollinators in your landscape.

Purple poppy mallow in habitat.

Purple poppy mallow in habitat.

New bench added to Cherry Creek habitat.

New bench added to Cherry Creek habitat.

1. Plant Native Plants. Native flora provides native pollinators with food in the form of pollen and nectar. Select plants that have a long bloom time. Also grow a wide selection of plants so you have plants blooming April through October.
2. Let your yard get a little messy. Leave unhazardous snags for nesting places and stack down tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators.
3. Create or protect water sources. Bees need water to drink. Create a water feature with rocks for insects to land. Be sure to keep birdbaths clean and change the water three times per week when mosquitoes are breeding.
4. Limit or eliminate pesticide use. By using fewer or no chemicals in the landscape you will help keep pollinator populations healthy.
5. Identify non-native invasive plants. Work to remove them from your yard. Do not bring any new invasive plants into your habitat. Invasive plants do not provide as much quality food or habitat as native plants do and can threaten healthy ecosystems.

Learn more about Pollinator Week in Nebraska:

http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/2015-nebraska-pollinator-week-bee-blitz

MJ

What is blooming in the Habitat

What a nice surprise to see this penstemon blooming in the pollinator habitat. Penstemon grandiflorus or large-flowered beardtongue is native to Nebraska. This plant prefers full sun to partial shade, dry conditions and can tolerate poor soil. At mature height it can reach 2 feet. It has amazing large, tubular pink to purple flowers that bloom for just a short time in May to June. Bumblebees are attracted to this penstemon. I planted seeds in October 2013 and we are now rewarded by its beautiful flowers.
MJ

Penstemon grandiflorus  blooming in the habitat.

Penstemon grandiflorus blooming in the habitat.

Check Out Photos from the Live Camera

One of the regulars in the Cherry Creek Habitat: a skunk

About this photo: One of the skunks we see regularly in habitat photos captured with the live cam.
This photo was taken March 28, 2015 at 1 a.m. CT

Last fall, a Web camera was mounted so everyone could watch a live stream view of the Cherry Creek Habitat 24/7. In addition to the change in seasons, viewers have also enjoyed wildlife using this educational area.

A couple weeks ago, I went through the camera still shots and pulled together some of the highlights from January-April 2015. Vicki in our office posted the photos to Flickr. The list of wildlife includes: two different skunks, two raccoons, two cats, a small herd of deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds and a wild turkey. There is a description with the date/time of day each still photo was taken.

Cherry Creek Habitat Web Cam Still Photos 2015 – more photos will be added each month. Enjoy!

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

What is blooming in the habitat

Prairie ragwort is a native plant that blooms May through June. This wildflower is a biennial or short-lived perennial that is approximately one foot tall.  It attracts many pollinators like bees, flies, moths and butterflies.

MJ

Prairie ragwort blooming now in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Prairie ragwort blooming now in the Cherry Creek Habitat.

Happy Earth Day!

Ten Ways to Celebrate Earth Day
1. Learn about pollinators.
2. Make a bird or bee house.
3. Plant native plants.
4. Recycle.
5. Fix leaky faucets.
6. Pick up trash.
7. Carpool, ride a bike or walk to your destination.
8. Give up bottled water.
9. Start buying local.
10. Go paperless.

MJ

Solitary bee house.

Solitary bee house.

Smooth aster.

Smooth aster.