Happy Pollinator Week! Today in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat the leaf cutter bees are very active. I can see where they have visited a seedling ash tree. Each disc of leaf that is clipped will become part of a cell that houses an individual leaf cutter bee egg. One of my favorite things to do is to check the bee house each week to see how may drilled blocks have been filled.
This NebGuide will help you make one for your habitat:
Happy National Pollinator Week! There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week:
1. Plant Native Plants. Native plants 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 tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators. Build an insect hotel or bee house in your landscape.
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.
If you live in or near Lincoln, attend this event:
“Pollinators on the Plaza”
Wednesday, June 20, 2018 4-6 pm
Union Plaza, 21st & P Streets, Lincoln Nebraska
Public educational fair for all ages including:
Pollinator planting/garden tours
Information/educational booths with handouts and/or hands on activities
Food vendors using pollinator based products (honey, etc)
Here are a few ways you can help pollinators this year. This is a resolution that will be fun and easy to keep.
Honey bee visiting a birdbath.
Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.
Offer a Drink & a Home
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. Build a bee house or insect hotel to provide nesting and shelter for pollinators. Plant Native
Plant native plants in your landscape. There are so many amazing plants to choose from. Here are a few suggestions to get you started: plains coreopsis, pasque flower, pitcher sage, purple coneflower, smooth aster and rough gayfeather. Do not for get trees and shrubs! Bloom all Season
It is important to have native flowers blooming the whole growing season. Pollinators need plants blooming March through November. Plant Milkweed
Monarchs need our help. Provide food for monarch butterfly caterpillars. There are several milkweeds to choose from: butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, whorled milkweed and swamp milkweed. No Chemicals
Protect pollinators by eliminating pesticides from your landscape. Plant native plants that have few pest or disease issues. Maintain a healthy soil by composting. Healthy soils produce healthy plants. “Bee” Involved
Learn more about organizations that support pollinators such as Pollinator Partnership. You can participate in citizen scientist programs for pollinators such as Bumble Boosters-University of Nebraska, Bumble Bee Watch-Xerces Society, The Great Sunflower Project-San Francisco State University and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project-Monarch Watch.
Wednesday was 4-H exhibit entry day at the Nebraska State Fair. While I was helping 4-H staff enter the exhibits for Lancaster county, I took a couple minutes to look at exhibits from other counties. I was really pleased at what I saw at the fair. Several 4-H youth had entered bee houses and small insect hotels. They were very clever with their designs and I managed to get pictures of a few of them. It is great to see Nebraska youth interested in pollinators and stepping up to help them.
Here is a NebGuide to help you get started building bee houses:
Yesterday Soni, Jody and I taught a pollinator session for Habitat Discovery. This was part of a week long day camp experience for youth at the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoor Education Center in Lincoln. We wanted the kids to build an insect hotel on location that would benefit pollinators and be a lasting addition to the Outdoor Education Center. This was an ambitious task, since it took Soni and I about three months to gather supplies to build the insect hotel located at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. I asked Lancaster County Master Gardeners to collect twigs, pinecones and egg cartons for the project. The kids had a great time building the insect hotel and it was quite impressive after our two hour program. The youth learned what solitary bees were and where they like to nest. They also got to make solitary bee homes out of recycled materials to take home and place in their landscapes. When the insect hotel was finished there was a solitary bee ready to check in!
This week we have noticed alot of activity around the bee house in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Evidence of leafcutter bees present show discs of leaves that are snipped from nearby ash tree seedlings. Drilled holes are now filled in the bee house. Learn more about leafcutter bees from this publication by Dr. Jonathan L. Larson at Nebraska Extension at Douglas/Sarpy Counties.
Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.
Last Thursday Soni and I spent the day teaching 4th and 5th graders about pollinators at the Outdoor Discovery Program held every year at Platte River State Park hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks. The day started out chilly, but by afternoon we were able to see many pollinators and the kids were able to stretch out in the grassy area and work in their field journals. We found out the attending youth knew what pollination means, what pollinators are and how they are important. What we were able to add to their knowledge was very interesting to them. We discussed native pollinators and showed them nesting bee blocks with the leaf cutter bees still in them ready to emerge. The importance of early blooming plants, like dandelions, which they considered weeds, was a surprise to them. The discussion turned to what food crops needed pollinators to produce, like tomatoes, apples and almonds. By the end of each session, the kids had a better understanding of our native pollinators and how their habitat is important to protect. It was a very fun day for all of us and it is great to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks in youth outdoor education.