Spring is here and we are all excited to buy plants for our gardens. If you are purchasing plants for a pollinator habitat, are the plants you buying safe for pollinators? Many bee loving garden plants are being pre-treated with pesticides that are shown to harm and kill bees, according to a new study.
The pilot study, co-authored by the Pesticide Research Institute, found 7 of 13 samples of garden plants purchased at top retailers in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay area and Minneapolis contain neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids that studies show could harm or kill bees and other pollinators.
Systemic pesticides, like neonics, are absorbed by plants after being applied to the leaves, seeds or soil. The pesticide persists in the plant for the whole season. When bees and other pollinators feed on the flowers and pollen of plants treated with neonics, they ingest the insecticide.
Before buying plants from any seller, ask them whether they use neonicotinoid pesticides or buy plants treated with them. If you plant from seeds, consider using seeds collected from plants you know to be untreated or purchased from retailers who do not sell pre-treated seeds.
UNL’s Bumble Boosters have put their bumble bee domicile house plans on-line. Now you an make a bumble bee house fit for a queen. Of course, you need to work quickly. The bumble bee domiciles should be heading outdoors now. The queens are emerging from hibernation and will be seeking out suitable homes.
Gardening with Children Reaps Many Benefits for Both Youth and Adults What is “Vitamin N”? N = Nature. I got my dose of “Vitamin N” yesterday when I had the good fortune to spend a few hours at my parent’s farm. The sounds and smells of nature always rejuvenates my soul and body. There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty! The smell of freshly turned soil in the spring… wonderful!
Research shows nature is good for us and has both long and short term mental and physical health benefits. The positive impact of exposure to nature and gardening is well documented. In 2008, University of Michigan researchers found that after an hour interacting with nature, memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent. University of Kansas researchers recently reported a 50 percent boost in creativity for people who were steeped in nature for a few days.
MJ picking up trash along the creek. Great to get it cleaned up!
Today was clean up day out at the Cherry Creek habitat. Wow! Beautiful weather… finally!!
We picked up a lot of trash from the creek and cut out a mess of wild grape vines that were entangling the cattails. The grape vines were added to a new wildlife brush pile. In addition to finding some nice raccoon scat, MJ found a $5 bill down in the creek! Who says it doesn’t pay to do a clean up!
So what’s new at the habitat? We have plants coming up (exciting!) and apparently, the habitat was a “stomping ground” for several deer recently. Good thing most of our plants aren’t up yet or they would’ve been salad for the deer! The native bee habitat will be moved outside soon after we add a small roof.
I hope you are all gathering up your scrap lumber, planning your insect/wildlife structures and thinking about plants and practices to benefit our native pollinators!
Here’s to sharing the buzz!
UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu
“Like many other important native pollinators, bumble bees are threatened by habitat loss, chemical use, and disease. Availability of nest sites is a key factor limiting bumble bee populations. Bumble bees do not make their nest. They instead locate abandoned rodent dens in which to establish a colony. There is high competition for these nest sites. Queen bumble bees will kill each other for control of a natural nest site.” From “Build a Better Domicile” at http://bumbleboosters.unl.edu/
You can help encourage bumble bees by building a better bumble bee “home”. Since 1999, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bumble Boosters has partnered with public and private organizations to encourage the conservation of bees and other invertebrate pollinators. The primary mission of Bumble Boosters is promoting the benefits of pollinators and public science literacy through engagement in authentic research with native pollinators. The “Build a Better Domicle” project encourages you to be a citizen scientist! Although the project is all out of bumble bee domicles for 2014, you can build your own. For information, contact email@example.com