Changes

It is a chilly morning in the habitat.  Very unusual for early September.  The bumble bees are out, but they are tucked into the flowers until it warms up a bit more.  The cottonwood tree is already starting to show fall color with yellow leaves. Sunflower heads are drooping, full of seeds that are attracting goldfinch. Our goldenrod is just starting to bloom and soon the asters will be too.

Bumble bee tucked into sedum flower.

Bumble bee tucked into sedum flower.

Sunflower heads are drooping and heavy with seeds.

Sunflower heads are drooping and heavy with seeds.

Cottonwood leaves turning beautiful yellow fall color.

Cottonwood leaves turning beautiful yellow fall color.

Goldenrod in the Cherry Creek habitat.

Goldenrod in the Cherry Creek habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have seen less activity around the bee house and are contributing that to the shorter day length. Gary, our Unit leader likes statistics and percentages.  He wanted to know what percentage of our bee house was filled.  We had an estimate, but today I decided to find out. After lots of counting, I concluded we had 21 percent occupancy in our bee house this year.  That is rather impressive for our first year habitat.

MJ

Master Gardeners at the Habitat

Yesterday we invited our UNL Extension Master Gardener volunteers to visit the Cherry Creek Habitat.  They participated in a Stationary Pollinator Count.  Observations made over a known period of time watching a known number of flowers on a single plant species is classified as a Stationary Count.  After the count they toured the habitat.  We discussed the different types of bees that have been nesting in the bee house and viewed the wide variety of plants that we have blooming.

MJ

UNL Extension Master Gardener volunteers in Lancaster County  participating in pollinator count.

UNL Extension Master Gardener volunteers in Lancaster County participating in pollinator count.

First Inventory of Wild Bees is Under Way

Bees are in the News! From National Geographic  —

Sam Droege, head of the Native Bee Inventory and Monitoring Program at the U.S. Geological Survey, is undertaking the monumental task of creating a national inventory of indigenous wild bees.

“The biggest problem is telling the bees apart. Bees are often difficult to differentiate, and about 400 species—ten percent of North America’s bees—lack names. (Compare that to the 1,000 ant species that have been named.)”

Bumble Bee

Could wild bees be the key to saving U.S. crops?

There’s a lot of work to do as scientists try to beat the clock. If honeybee populations continue to decline, scientists believe wild bees could potentially save our crops.

Take a moment to view the video and read more at National Geographic News – As Honeybees Die Off, First Inventory of Wild Bees Is Under Way. Could wild bees be the key to saving U.S. crops? by Sasha Ingber for National Geographic.

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

The Great Sunflower Project

Planting sunflower seeds in pollinator habitat for the Great  Sunflower Project.

Planting sunflower seeds in pollinator habitat for the Great Sunflower Project.

Our Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat will be participating in The Great Sunflower Project.  In May my daughter and I planted Lemon Queen sunflowers in the habitat.  The sunflowers are growing well and will be blooming in a few weeks.  We will then do pollinator counts and report our findings to The Great Sunflower Project web site. They recommend planting untreated seed of Lemon Queen sunflowers. Gardeners from around the United States who planted this one type of sunflower will record their results for the Safe Gardens for Pollinators Program. If you do not have room for sunflowers, do not worry, they have other pollinator counts you can participate in too. To learn more about this project, visit their web site at greatsunflower.org  Consider participating in one of their pollinator counts and take the Great Pollinator Habitat Challenge!

MJ

Use untreated sunflower seeds. The project recommends planting Lemon Queen.

Use untreated sunflower seeds. The project recommends planting Lemon Queen.

Lemon Queen sunflower plants.

Lemon Queen sunflower plants.

Pollinators in Mind

pollinator habitat sign

pollinator habitat sign

 

Last week I attended Managing Prairies with Pollinators in Mind workshop in Morris Minnesota at the University of Minnesota West Central Research Outreach & Extension Center. It was amazing to be in the company of so many people who are concerned about pollinators.  I was able to share our story and pictures of our habitat, bee house and insect hotel.

The participants and speakers I met are making a real impact on pollinator education.  We learned about pollinator legislation, pollinator life cycles, how to do a pollinator assessment, endangered species and insect research projects. Minnesota is leading the way on pollinator education and habitat establishment & protection. Currently it is unknown how many native bee species are in Minnesota.  Researchers there are going to compile a list.  This will be a huge task. I was impressed with the land managers who want to learn the best way to protect and promote pollinator populations.

At this workshop we all realized that now is the time to do all we can to promote pollinators and voice our concern about their decline.  Policy makers are listening. Research and education are being funded. I have returned even more motivated to expand our habitat and educate others about pollinators.

MJ

Purchase Plants that do not Harm Pollinators

Spring is here and we are all excited to buy plants for our gardens.  If you are purchasing plants for a pollinator habitat, are the plants you buying safe for pollinators?  Many bee loving garden plants are being pre-treated with pesticides that are shown to harm and kill bees, according to a new study.

http://libcloud.s3.amazonaws.com/93/88/f/3354/Gardeners-Beware-Report-11.pdf

The pilot study, co-authored by the Pesticide Research Institute, found 7 of 13 samples of garden plants purchased at top retailers in Washington D.C., the San Francisco Bay area and Minneapolis contain neurotoxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids that studies show could harm or kill bees and other pollinators.

Systemic pesticides, like neonics, are absorbed by plants after being applied to the leaves, seeds or soil.  The pesticide persists in the plant for the whole season. When bees and other pollinators feed on the flowers and pollen of plants treated with neonics, they ingest the insecticide.

Before buying plants from any seller, ask them whether they use neonicotinoid pesticides or buy plants treated with them.  If you plant from seeds, consider using seeds collected from plants you know to be untreated or purchased from retailers who do not sell pre-treated seeds.

MJ

blanketflower

blanketflower

Bumble Bee Domicile House Plans!

UNL’s Bumble Boosters have put their bumble bee domicile house plans on-line. Now you an make a bumble bee house fit for a queen. Of course, you need to work quickly. The bumble bee domiciles should be heading outdoors now. The queens are emerging from hibernation and will be seeking out suitable homes.

A link to the directions! http://bumbleboosters.unl.edu/?q=domiciledesign

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

Be a Bumble Bee watcher!

Just received cool news!! The Bumble Bee Watch web site is live! Now you and your family can connect with experts and enthusiasts as citizen scientists. Your mission? Help track these essential pollinators in North America and promote pollinator-friendly habitats.

All you need is a smartphone or simple digital camera – go to BumbleBeeWatch.org and you can:

  • Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection
  • Use an interactive guide to identify the bumble bees in your photos
  • Have your identifications verified by experts
  • Help determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees
  • Help locate rare or endangered populations
  • Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts
  • Connect with other citizen scientists engaged in pollinator conservation

Personally, I can’t wait until spring is here when we start seeing the bees!

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

EPA issues new pesticide labels to help protect pollinators

Apologies for the snippets and links, but important to get the information out:

Just released:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has unveiled new labels that prohibit the use of some of the controversial pesticides containing neonicotinoids where bees are present.

Here is the official press release from the EPA: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/C186766DF22B37D485257BC8005B0E64

NBC News release: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/epa-issues-new-pesticide-labels-warn-about-hazards-bees-6C10931490

Take a peek at the official EPA Bee Advisory Box label here http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/ecosystem/pollinator/bee-label-info-graphic.pdf

Summary of federal efforts to protect pollinators: http://www.epa.gov/opp00001/ecosystem/pollinator/index.html

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

Tubs, Hoses and Stuff

UNL research on building/parking lot runoff

Tools UNL researchers are using to monitor runoff from buildings and parking lots

If you visit our office, you might wonder about the blue plastic tubs with hoses and “stuff” connected to them (photo). There is one set on the building and one down a drainage slope by the parking lot. University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers are monitoring runoff from our building roof and parking.  This information will be used to help researchers work on reducing non-source point pollution coming from urban features like buildings and paved lots.

Bit of “Buzz” on the Cherry Creek Habitat: We’re getting more mulch soon to help conserve moisture for plants. We had so much rain and now it looks like we’re going to slide back into a drought pattern. I stopped by this weekend to water some of the newer plantings. The big cottontail rabbit who was busy munching on some of the plantings was surprised! MJ added a low-tech water feature today for insects. The feature is also perfect for the birds. Our resident robins seem most excited and vocal about all of the improvements we’re doing. Soon we’ll be putting together the components for the insect hotel. Can’t wait until this fall when we can do some more plantings.

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