Spring is here and we are enjoying the roller coaster of temperatures. Warm & sunny one day, cloudy & cold the next. That is spring in Nebraska. Due to COVID-19 we have a new normal to our life. Nebraska Extension staff are working remotely and the office is closed. I am disappointed I can not be in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat, it is a special place. I like to watch the plants emerge and the start of bee activity. We can watch the Live Habitat Web Cam, so that does help me keep an eye on what is going on. You can watch too by clicking the link above.
I hope everyone is spending time in their home pollinator habitat. I have been. It is nice to spend lunch time outside seeing what is blooming and plotting my next project. Now is a good time to make a list of spring blooming plants you need to add to your habitat. Consider spring blooming bulbs like scilla, crocus, snowdrops, striped squill and glory-of-the-snow. Spring blooming trees include redbud, plums and cherries. Perennials that bloom in the spring are Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauty and pasqueflower.
Near the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat wild plum and willow trees are blooming. These plants are important early blooming flowers for pollinators. Wild violets and dandelions are also blooming. Yesterday we taught youth about habitats at an outdoor education event at a nearby state park. It was great to show the students the early blooming flowers we saw, white trout lily and Dutchman’s breeches. Hope you can get outside this weekend and see what is blooming.
“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.” A.A. Milne Who doesn’t love dandelions? They are the most well recognized flower anywhere you go. 473 more words
“…Early spring pollinators need a balanced diet much like people. Too much sugar and not enough protein will not provide the queens with essential elements for healthy progeny. White clover does produce nectar but not in the same quantity as dandelions. However, unlike dandelions, the protein content of white clover pollen is high and contains all the essential nutrients needed for pollinator health…”
“…Dandelions and white clover together make for a happy and healthy diet options for pollinators. However, they do not make for a happy homeowner. The last 50 years we have become obsessed with a thick, lush, weed-free lawn. We spray, pull, and weed-out anything that is not turf grass from the lawn. This leaves very little options for our insect friends….”
This week Chris finished up installing our new educational signs in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We had moisture issues and ants nesting in our previous sign frames. Very frustrating! Jenny helped us with the process of getting replacement frames. These frames were a different size, so new signs needed to be ordered. Vicki updated and ordered our educational signs and when they arrived, Chris installed them. We are so pleased to have them since they are an important educational features in our pollinator habitat.
This week I visited the Calvert Rec Center Pollinator Garden. Two Nebraska Extension Lancaster County Master Gardeners, Nance and Mary, planted and maintain this garden as a volunteer project. They have planted many native plants that are labeled for the public to view. They have installed a bee water station and have spent hours weeding this impressive garden site. Thank you for hard work and dedication to pollinators!
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:
This is the 5th summer for the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat! It is amazing to see how much we have accomplished in 5 years. We started with a neglected lawn area behind our office and turned it into a thriving habitat for pollinators and wildlife. The habitat is a great place to teach youth, adults, Master Gardeners and even our own staff about the importance of pollinators. Every time I visit the habitat I see or learn something new. It has been a rewarding experience and I hope it has been an inspiration for you as well.
Two educational signs
One solitary bee house
One insect hotel
Three water stations
Live habitat web cam
Picnic table and bench
Bird feeding stations
Over 40 native plants with name labels
Over 190 stems of common milkweed for monarchs and other beneficial insects
Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program site
Hours of educational outreach for youth and adults
The Pollinator Talks & Tours on August 3 is a terrific opportunity to learn more about pollinators, plants and take a tour of pollinator habitats. The tours will be led by staff from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Entomology, Backyard Farmer, Nebraska By Heart, Nebraska Forest Service and Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.
All events (with the exception of the 2 p.m. tour) begin from the Backyard Farmer (BYF) gardens east of UNL Keim Hall, 1825 N. 38th St in Lincoln, Nebraska.
At the BYF garden, FREE herbal tea will be available and for kids—pollinator activities, face-painting and make-your-own antennae.
Schedule of Events:
9 a.m. Tour of “Nebraska by Heart” installations on UNL east campus
10 and 11 a.m. Tours of the BYF garden and Maxwell, with a focus on plants for pollinators
12 p.m. Brown-bag on monarchs by Shauna Groenewold, Citizen Scientist & Monarch Enthusiast
2 p.m. Tour of Union Plaza pollinator plants starting from 2228 N. 21 St.
This event is sponsored by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, firstname.lastname@example.org, 402-472-2971.
Parking: Pink areas on this map http://maps.unl.edu/east/ show visitor meters near the BYF garden, located between Fair, Center and N. 39th Streets. NOTE: some pink areas are reserved for dental patients and Dairy Store only.
Looking for more family fun on August 3?
Enjoy the Pollinator Tours and Talks and then head over to the first official day of the Lancaster County Super Fair in Lincoln! Details at http://superfair.org
Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu
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!
Every Tuesday Lancaster County Master Gardeners assist Dave from our office at the City Mission Garden. Dave started the garden a few years ago as education outreach for Mission residents who wanted to learn to garden. Residents come and go, but Dave and the master gardeners are there consistently through the spring, summer and fall. Vegetables are collected each week and used in the City Mission kitchen. Today they had broccoli, onions and herbs. Master Gardener Jane planted wildflowers and now there is a beautiful pollinator garden too. She hopes to have a good selection of plants that bloom during each season to apply for the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program.