Youth Building for 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:

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

MJ Frogge

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Leafcutter Bees

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.

MJ Frogge

http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/Getting%20to%20Know%20Leafcutter%20Bees.pdf

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

All Bees – All the Time!

It’s hard to believe that on June 3, I posted photos of the brand new nesting blocks going into our native bee nesting structure in the Cherry Creek Habitat. We’ve been watching the leafcutter bees and they are quickly filling up all the blocks. Mary Jane had some some tubes in her office so she brought those out and we added them to the structure and to the insect hotel. The little bees are sure fun to watch as they carry their leaves into the holes.

To learn how to create your own pollinator-friendly habitat, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml.

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

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

Doing a little Bee Nest Box Upkeep

 

morewood

A few of the new blocks for the Bee Nesting Structure in the Cherry Creek Habitat

Today was a little upkeep and renovation to the bee nesting box structure in the Cherry Creek Habitat. I spent a few days drilling various-sized holes in scrap lumber to replace some of the older nesting blocks. I carefully examined the current nesting blocks and if they were in good shape, never used or had bees already nesting in them, left them in the habitat. Some of the wood I had used before just wasn’t the best and the holes had swelled nearly shut. If there was anything that looked like it was too wet, moldy or decaying, it was removed. I did the same for the bamboo and phragmites stems.

To learn how to create your own pollinator-friendly habitat, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml.

As I cleaned up the structure, I found all sorts of other critters living in the habitat. Yellowjacket workers who huddled together at the end of their lives. Dermestid beetle larvae feeding on the dead yellowjackets. A bold jumping spider made me “jump” but by the time I got the camera out to photograph his magnificent face, he had scooted off – the same for the Parsons spider. I wasn’t quick enough with the camera. I also upset a very large colony of acrobat ants. Little did I know that they have a very painful bite and they let me know by attacking my hands and arms. I did find a phragmites stem that was split and you could see the neat nest made by a leafcutter bee. It is the featured photo on this post.

acrobatants

Acrobat ants live in the same conditions as carpenter ants, where wood has gotten damp and started to rot. These were living under one of the bee nesting blocks.

As for the acrobat ants, I’m hoping they moved on to new living quarters.

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

4-H Youth and Habitat Discovery

This morning Soni and I taught 4-H youth about pollinators in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. All week our office is hosting Clover College. For our Habitat Discovery session, youth did nature journaling, planted native plants in the habitat, planted sunflower seeds, installed a bee water source and made bee nesting tubes bundles for the bee nest box structure and insect hotel. At the end of the session the youth made nature journals and took home their own bee nest box to put in their landscape. Spending time educating youth about pollinators was a great way to finish Pollinator Week!

MJ

Youth journaling in habitat.

Youth journaling in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Boys on new bench in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Nature journaling in habitat.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

Youth with their new bee houses to take home.

Are You Working on Your Native Bee Nest Boxes?

Bee Nest Box Structure - Bee Hotel

Bee Nest Box for the Cherry Creek Habitat

Now’s a great time to be working on your native bee nesting blocks and insect hotels. Make your structures simple or complex, basic or creative. The native bees won’t care – you’ll just want to provide a variety of hole sizes in the blocks or tubes you provide.

Check out Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape. This resource also includes directions on how to make native bee nesting blocks. Once you’ve made your nesting blocks/structures, you can set those out in your landscape this spring.

Speaking of spring…It won’t be long and we’ll start to see “spring” in the Cherry Creek Habitat. You can enjoy the seasons with us on the live cam. The native bee nesting box structure and insect hotel are on the north side of the habitat – near the back of the camera view. Enjoy – watch live here.

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

Bumble bees!

Bumble bees on Mexican giant hyssop.

Bumble bees on Mexican giant hyssop.

The past two mornings I have observed bumble bees in the Cherry Creek Habitat.  I am very excited about this. This has been one of my objectives to create a habitat that bumble bees would visit and hopefully nest in.  The bumble bees were visiting the Mexican giant hyssop that is in three of our container planters and the white clover that recovered nicely from being fed on over the winter by rabbits and deer.

MJ

Tips on Creating Habitats for Bumble Bees

The Xerces Society has recommendations on how to create habitats for bumble bees.
There are three things that bumble bees need in the landscape to thrive: flowers from which to gather pollen and nectar, a place to nest, and a sheltered location to overwinter. Continue reading

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