Happy Pollinator Week! Today in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat the leaf cutter bees are very active. I can see where they have visited a seedling ash tree. Each disc of leaf that is clipped will become part of a cell that houses an individual leaf cutter bee egg. One of my favorite things to do is to check the bee house each week to see how may drilled blocks have been filled.
This NebGuide will help you make one for your habitat:
“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….”
Here are a few ways you can help pollinators this year. This is a resolution that will be fun and easy to keep.
Honey bee visiting a birdbath.
Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.
Offer a Drink & a Home
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. Build a bee house or insect hotel to provide nesting and shelter for pollinators. Plant Native
Plant native plants in your landscape. There are so many amazing plants to choose from. Here are a few suggestions to get you started: plains coreopsis, pasque flower, pitcher sage, purple coneflower, smooth aster and rough gayfeather. Do not for get trees and shrubs! Bloom all Season
It is important to have native flowers blooming the whole growing season. Pollinators need plants blooming March through November. Plant Milkweed
Monarchs need our help. Provide food for monarch butterfly caterpillars. There are several milkweeds to choose from: butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, whorled milkweed and swamp milkweed. No Chemicals
Protect pollinators by eliminating pesticides from your landscape. Plant native plants that have few pest or disease issues. Maintain a healthy soil by composting. Healthy soils produce healthy plants. “Bee” Involved
Learn more about organizations that support pollinators such as Pollinator Partnership. You can participate in citizen scientist programs for pollinators such as Bumble Boosters-University of Nebraska, Bumble Bee Watch-Xerces Society, The Great Sunflower Project-San Francisco State University and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project-Monarch Watch.
The Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat is full of color and life. There are so many important native plants blooming now. These plants are important because they are used by migrating butterflies like monarch and painted ladies. They are also important to the native bees and other beneficial insects that will be active until the first hard frost. Blooming in the habitat right now is smooth aster, tall thistle, sawtooth sunflower, goldenrod and pitcher sage.
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:
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!
We wrapped up National Pollinator Week by attending Bee Fun Day at NEREC August N. Christenson Research & Education Building near Ithaca Nebraska yesterday. This event was sponsored by the Nebraska Beekeepers Association and Nebraska Extension. Soni, Jody and I had a youth activity booth for kids to make paper flowers and pipe cleaner caterpillars. We talked about what native plants are important to our native pollinators and what caterpillars need to eat to eventually turn into butterflies. We also took some time with our fellow Extension staff to scout for pollinators around the NEREC grounds.
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.