An Idea Whose Time Has Come…

Today’s editorial in the local newspaper, the Lincoln Journal Star, focuses on the plight of bees and the United State’s efforts to do something about our pollinator populations.

From the editorial – June 30, 2014

Six years ago, at a time when news media were giving attention to the high rate of bee deaths, the Journal Star mused in a tongue-in-cheek editorial that maybe one day the nation would be forced into “dotting the landscape with national bee refuges………”

Take a moment to read the rest of the editorial on-line here.

Here’s to sharing the buzz!

Soni

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

 

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Habitat Discovery for 4-H Youth

Kids nature journaling in the pollinator habitat.

Kids nature journaling in the pollinator habitat.

Today Soni and I taught a Clover College session for Lancaster County 4-H youth. Our class was called Habitat Discovery.  We taught the kids about pollinators and why they are important.  We gave a tour of our pollinator habitat and explained the bee house and insect hotel.  The kids then made nature journals.  They took their journals out into the habitat and made observations.  They wrote about the weather.  It was sunny and hot!  They searched for pollinators and other insects.  They drew what they saw and colored their pictures.  By spending time in the habitat they could watch the pollinators visit the flowers.  They saw the solitary bees visit the bee house and enter the holes drilled in the wood.  Each kid got to take home their journals, purple coneflower seeds and a small bee house that Soni made for them.  What a perfect way to finish Pollinator Week!

MJ

We have more photos on our office Flickr. See Clover College 2014 – Day 4: Habitat Discovery
Here are even more photos from the day…  Continue reading

The Great Sunflower Project

Planting sunflower seeds in pollinator habitat for the Great  Sunflower Project.

Planting sunflower seeds in pollinator habitat for the Great Sunflower Project.

Our Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat will be participating in The Great Sunflower Project.  In May my daughter and I planted Lemon Queen sunflowers in the habitat.  The sunflowers are growing well and will be blooming in a few weeks.  We will then do pollinator counts and report our findings to The Great Sunflower Project web site. They recommend planting untreated seed of Lemon Queen sunflowers. Gardeners from around the United States who planted this one type of sunflower will record their results for the Safe Gardens for Pollinators Program. If you do not have room for sunflowers, do not worry, they have other pollinator counts you can participate in too. To learn more about this project, visit their web site at greatsunflower.org  Consider participating in one of their pollinator counts and take the Great Pollinator Habitat Challenge!

MJ

Use untreated sunflower seeds. The project recommends planting Lemon Queen.

Use untreated sunflower seeds. The project recommends planting Lemon Queen.

Lemon Queen sunflower plants.

Lemon Queen sunflower plants.

Herbs are Meant to be Eaten

Dill is an excellent larval plant for Swallowtail butterflies.

Dill is an excellent larval plant for Swallowtail butterflies.

A corner of the habitat has been planted with herbs. Herbs are excellent larval and nectar plants for butterflies. We have planted borage, dill, parsley, basil, garlic chives, oregano and thyme.  Swallowtail butterflies lay their eggs on dill and parsley plants.  The caterpillars feed on the plants until they pupate.  I hope there will be lots of herb eating in the habitat this year.  We can always plant more.

MJ

Flowering Containers

Three weeks ago we planted five containers with flowering annuals.  Many of our native plants are small and have not bloomed  in the habitat.  We wanted to provide flowers for the solitary bees and butterflies already in the area.  Near our habitat entrance we planted sweet alyssum, Mexican giant hyssop and lantana.  In containers near the bee house, salvia and rose moss were planted.  The flowers are in full bloom and attracting many native bees.

MJ

Sweet alyssum, Mexican giant hyssop & lantana in containers near habitat entrance.

Sweet alyssum, Mexican giant hyssop & lantana in containers near habitat entrance.

Salvia & rose moss in containers near bee house.

Salvia & rose moss in containers near bee house.

Happy Pollinator Week!

June 16-22 is pollinator week!  We are so excited!  Solitary bees have nested in our bee house and insect hotel.  We have found them in the wood blocks that Soni drilled holes into over the winter. The bee house has been in the habitat one month today.  Please consider placing one in your landscape.  You can purchase one or make your own. Tom, one of our Master Gardener volunteers has made and placed one in his landscape.  I purchased a bee house on-line with bamboo tubes and have Orchard Mason bees nesting in it now in my home landscape.

MJ

Master Gardener Tom's bee house.

Master Gardener Tom’s bee house.

Bee house with Orchard Mason bees.

Bee house with Orchard Mason bees.

Solitary bee nesting in wood block in bee house.

Solitary bee nesting in wood block in bee house.

Pollinators in Mind

pollinator habitat sign

pollinator habitat sign

 

Last week I attended Managing Prairies with Pollinators in Mind workshop in Morris Minnesota at the University of Minnesota West Central Research Outreach & Extension Center. It was amazing to be in the company of so many people who are concerned about pollinators.  I was able to share our story and pictures of our habitat, bee house and insect hotel.

The participants and speakers I met are making a real impact on pollinator education.  We learned about pollinator legislation, pollinator life cycles, how to do a pollinator assessment, endangered species and insect research projects. Minnesota is leading the way on pollinator education and habitat establishment & protection. Currently it is unknown how many native bee species are in Minnesota.  Researchers there are going to compile a list.  This will be a huge task. I was impressed with the land managers who want to learn the best way to protect and promote pollinator populations.

At this workshop we all realized that now is the time to do all we can to promote pollinators and voice our concern about their decline.  Policy makers are listening. Research and education are being funded. I have returned even more motivated to expand our habitat and educate others about pollinators.

MJ