Teaching Youth about Pollinators

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.

MJ Frogge

Make Your Own Bee House

You still have time this spring to build your own bee house for solitary bees like leaf cutter bees.  It does not need to be as large as the one located in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

The NebGuide: Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel will help you make one.  Start today!

http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g2256.pdf

MJ Frogge

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick a size that works best in your habitat.

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.

beehouseJackMorris

Master Gardener Jack’s bee house.

tombeehouse

Master Gardener Tom’s bee house.

Nebraskans Care About Pollinators

Nearly 70 people attended the Pollinator Class and Open House last night at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat located at the Lancaster County Extension Office. Those attending included Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification members, Master Gardeners and citizens from several southeastern Nebraska communities who wanted to know more about pollinators and the Habitat Certification program.  After a habitat tour, delicious food and a power point program on the benefits of pollinators, the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Team held a Q&A session. Great discussion and concern expressed on how to help pollinators and increase habitat. A perfect evening!

MJ Frogge

Pollinator Class & Open House

On April 6 the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is the venue for a Pollinator Class and Open House.  The Nebraska Pollinator Certification Team is hosting this event to recognize the 30 Certified Habitats and invite the public to learn more about the program and pollinators. Pre-registration is required by April 3.

For Registration: http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/PollinatorClass17.pdf

MJ Frogge

habitataster15

Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat Summer 2015

Pollinator Class and Open House
Thursday, April 6, 6–8 p.m.
Lancaster Extension Education Center
444 Cherrycreek Road, Lincoln NE
Pre-registration is required by April 3.
Hors d’oeuvre will be served from 6–7 p.m., followed by pollinator presentation.
Cost is $5 per person

It is Official! Certified Habitat

This week we received our Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  Our habitat earned a certificate and we also have an attractive sign to proudly display.

habitatsign

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification sign for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

So what does this mean to have a Habitat Certification?

We have made the commitment to protect pollinators by:

Providing a diversity of plant material essential to providing both nectar and pollen to support a healthy ecosystem. We use plants that provide pollen and nectar sources from early spring to late fall, provide a diversity of plants, flower shapes and flower sizes, choose older cultivars and  heirloom varieties of annuals and limit newer introductions, incorporate pollinator friendly native plants into the garden and place plants in masses (three or more) to attract pollinators.

Provide water, shelter and nesting areas for pollinators.

Practice conservation practices to protect and support pollinators by reducing lawn areas, maintain a layer of organic mulch over tree roots, shrubs and plant beds, plant groundcovers or use mulch on thinly vegetated areas to decrease erosion, avoid chemical pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides where possible, use a rain barrel or other means of capturing/utilizing rainwater to irrigate plants and water plants only when necessary.

If you are interested in certifying your garden or want to learn the requirements, please visit the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification site to see the application.

http://go.unl.edu/pollinatorhabitat

MJ Frogge

Where have the butterflies gone?

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar in parsley. Photo by Jody Green

Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar in parsley. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

As I drove home yesterday, a monarch butterfly flew very near my truck! I was relieved to have missed it (or it missed me!) Unlike other years, I just haven’t encountered a lot of butterflies in my pollinator garden at home or on the road.

Are you seeing butterflies and moths? Are you also wondering where the butterflies have gone? I’ve gotten several calls from people who grow host plants in their landscapes specifically for butterflies. Some call me every year to report what they are seeing. But, like my own garden, people are reporting very few butterflies or caterpillars. Continue reading

Picky eaters: Bumble bees prefer plants with nutrient-rich pollen

Bumblebee on a common milkweed in the habitat

Bumblebee on a common milkweed in the Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat

This is an excerpt from on-line Science Daily June 27, 2016:

Bumble bees have discriminating palettes when it comes to their pollen meals, according to researchers at Penn State. The researchers found that bumble bees can detect the nutritional quality of pollen, and that this ability helps them selectively forage among plant species to optimize their diets.

According to Anthony Vaudo, a graduate student in entomology who led the study, scientists previously believed that bees’ preferences for flowering plants were driven by floral traits, such as color, scent, morphology or nectar concentration.

“Here we show that bumble bees actually choose a plant for the nutritional quality of its pollen,” said Vaudo. “This is important because pollen is bees’ primary source of protein and lipids.”

Read more about this Penn State University study in the on-line Science Daily June 27, 2016

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

The August 2016 Issue of the NEBLINE is on-line!

The August NEBLINE Newsletter is now online. This is a free resource from our office and this month you’ll find information on making the recycled bee nesting tubes and creating healthy habitats for beneficial insects. Enjoy and Here’s to Sharing the “Buzz” – Soni

Home Wise! Family Smart!

The NEBLINE Newsletter

The August issue of the free NEBLINE newsletter is now on-line. Visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/nebline and click on the link to the August 2016 NEBLINE!

Here are some of the articles featured in this issue – – – –

  • 4-H Clover College 20th Anniversary
  • Cool Summer Salads – You can make salads in a jar & Two Ingredient Vinaigrette Recipe for Salads
  • Using La Niña to Forecast the Weather
  • Inheriting a Farm, Seminar Aug. 17 (Local program)
  • Don’t Banish the Booster Until Children Are 57″ Tall
  • All Ears for Earwigs
  • Diversity is the Key to Attracting Wildlife
  • Choosing a Birdbath
  • Helping Pollinators: Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials
  • August Garden Guide
  • Grow Your Own Pest Control: Creating Habitat for Beneficial Insects
  • Lincoln Center Kiwanis Receives the August Heart of 4-H Award
  • 4-H’ers Test Family and Consumer Science, Entrepreneurship Skills at Life Challenge & Animal Science Skills at PASE
  • Emerald Ash Borer Seminars Offered…

View original post 69 more words

Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials

Native bees are important pollinators. Some native bees, like leaf cutter bees and mason bees, nest in hollow plant stems.  You can help native solitary bees by providing a man-made bee nest. The kids that attended my Clover College workshop last week made these bee nests. They had a fun time and this would be easy for your family to make for Pollinator Week.

Supplies

1 ¾ inch plastic lid from juice container

Paper towel tube cut to 7 inches in length (we use the tube from automated paper towel dispensers) If you use a regular sized paper towel tube, the plastic juice container lid will need to be 1 ½ inches.

Paper drinking straws cut to 6 inches in length

Mason bee tubes (optional)

Duct tape

Zip ties or twine

supplies

Bee Nest supplies: paper towel tube, plastic lid, paper straws and duct tape.

Instructions

Push the juice container lid into the cut end of the paper towel tube.  It should fit snuggly. The nesting tube needs to have one end closed off or the bees will not be able to nest in the tube.

Place the paper straws and/or mason bee tubes in the paper towel tube and push them back so they are snug against the juice lid. Place enough paper straws inside until they are snug and will not fall out.

top

Paper straws inserted into paper towel tube and pushed snug to the back.

Cover the outside of the paper towel tube with duct tape.  This will help keep the bee nest water proof and last longer.

Place your bee nest outside in your landscape with the nest positioned horizontally.  The opening should face south or southeast. Put the nest approximately 2-4 feet above the ground. Use two zip ties or twine to attach the bee nest to a post or fence. You could also attach it to a building, tree or large shrub. Wherever you place the bee nest, make sure it is securely attached and level.

post

Place your bee nest outside in your landscape with the nest positioned horizontally. The opening should face south or southeast.

Female native solitary bees will nest in the bee tube during the spring and summer.  The immature bees will over winter in the tube and emerge as adults next spring. Leave the bee nest in place for approximately two years.  Replace the bee nest when all the bees have emerged.

MJ Frogge

It is Pollinator Week!

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 Lincoln, attend this event:

Pollinator Power Event

Tuesday, June 21st 2016 (5:30 – 7:30 PM)

At UNL East Campus, Lincoln NE

Entomology & Agronomy and Horticulture Departments’ Pollinator Garden

Directions: On UNL East Campus

Take Fair Street North of the College of Law Building.

Follow gravel road back towards 48th and Holdrege, park where directed.

Kids activities
Pollinator demonstration, garden tours
Learn about pollinator-friendly plants, honey bees, wild bees, Monarch butterflies and more…

MJ