Spring Flowering Bulbs

One of my favorite plants is blooming now, Snowdrops! This stunning and tough little flower benefits pollinators. If the temperature is above 4o degrees F when it is blooming, you will find honey bees visiting these delightful flowers.

Other spring flowering bulbs that benefit pollinators include Glory-of-the-Snow and Crocus. Consider planting these bulbs this fall in your pollinator habitat.

MJ Frogge

snowdrops

Snowdrops blooming in February. Can you find the honeybee?

Perennial Plant of the Year-It’s a Native!

butterflymilkweed2

Butterfly milkweed

Every year the Perennial Plant Association designates a “Perennial Plant of the Year.” This announcement is well know among gardeners and horticulturists like me.  I usually have it as a featured article in the Horticulture section of our county newsletter the Nebline. The 2017’s selection made me jump with joy! It is an important native pollinator plant, butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).  This plant will be recognized and promoted extensively this year.  I am hopeful many gardeners will plant it and continue to add native plants to their landscape. It is beneficial to Monarchs and other native pollinators.

MJ Frogge

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from all of us here at Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County!

Today, we recycled the fall decorations from our office by placing them into the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It will be fun to watch the wildlife on the live camera as they check out the pumpkins, squash and cornstalks. You can watch at http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/bees.shtml

While working around the insect hotel, I noticed an opossum has been raiding the black oil sunflower seeds, chewing the seeds up and then regurgitating almond-sized pellets or “nuggets”. People sometimes notice these same pellets around bird feeders and aren’t sure what they are! Now, you know!

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

“For the golden corn
and the apples on the tree,
For the golden butter
and honey for our tea;
For fruits and nuts and
berries, that grow
beside the way
For birds and bees and
flowers, we give thanks
every day”
–author unknown

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

Getting to Know Leafcutter Bees

Thanks to our colleague Dr. Jonathan L. Larson for providing this information. Dr. Larson is an Extension Educator in Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy Counties

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QUICK FACTS

  • Leafcutter bees are important pollinators that are members of the family Megachilidae. They tend to be stout-bodied, dark in color, and have pollen collecting hairs on their “belly”
  • They visit many crops including alfalfa, blueberries, cherries, almonds, onions, carrots and dozens of different wildflowers
  • Leafcutter bees pose little sting hazard in comparison to the honey bee or even Beedrill and even though they can cosmetically damage some plants it is best not to use insecticides against them

Continue reading

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

Summer Blooming Plants for Pollinators

To celebrate pollinator week consider certifying your landscape in the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program. Summer flowering plants that bloom in June and July are an important section of the application.  Your pollinator habitat must have plant diversity and long blooming plants are necessary for every pollinator habitat. To see the application, visit this web site: http://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

MJ Frogge

June and July Blooming Plants

Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion
Amorpha canescens – Leadplant
Aruncus dioicus – Goat’s Beard
Asclepias sp. – Milkweed
 Cepholanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush
Coreopsis lanceolata – Tickseed
Coreopsis tinctoria – Plains Coreopsis
Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover
Echinacea angustifolia – Narrowleaf Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower
Gaillardia sp. – Blanketflower
Liatris sp. – Gayfeather
Monarda sp. – Bee Balm
Packera plattensis – Prairie Groundsel
Oenothera sp.  – Evening Primrose
Penstemon cobaea – Prairie Penstemon
Penstemon digitalis – Beardtongue
Penstemon grandiflorus – Large Beardtongue
Rosa arkansana – Prairie Rose
Rosa blanda – Smooth Rose
Rosa carolina – Carolina Rose
Ruellia humilis – Wild Petunia
Silphium perfoliatum
Tilia sp. – Linden
Tradescantia sp. – Spiderwort
Verbenena canadensis – Rose Vervain
Veronicastrum virginicum – Culver’s Root
Arenaria hookeri – Hooker’s Sandwort
Callirhoe involucrata – Purple Poppymallow
Calylophus serrulatus – Yellow Sundrops
Erigeron sp. – Fleabane

 

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

 

Youth Discover Habitat

Yesterday I taught 4-H youth about pollinators in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. All week our office is hosting Clover College. For my Habitat Discovery session, youth learned about native pollinators,  explored the pollinator habitat, made a solitary bee nest out of recycled materials to take home, did nature journaling and planted sunflower seeds in the habitat. At the end of the session the youth made nature journals to take on their next nature adventure. What a great day spending time educating youth about pollinators.

MJ

CCgirls

Habitat discovery at Clover College.