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

Make Your Own Bee House

You still have time this spring to build your own bee house for solitary bees like leaf cutter bees.  It does not need to be as large as the one located in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

The NebGuide: Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel will help you make one.  Start today!

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

MJ Frogge

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick a size that works best in your habitat.

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.

beehouseJackMorris

Master Gardener Jack’s bee house.

tombeehouse

Master Gardener Tom’s bee house.

What is Blooming in April?

What is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in April? Today I found pasque flower, wild plum, redbud and dandelions. Yes, we have dandelions in the pollinator habitat.  They are a great early blooming plant for pollinators.  I found tiny native bees visiting the plants.  Let a few plants remain and bloom in your habitat.  Remove the dead flowers before they go to seed.

MJ Frogge

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?

Spring Flowering Plants for Pollinators

Earlier this month I announced the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program. We hope that you will consider certifying your habitat or start the process of planning one in your landscape. One of the important sections of the application is plant selection.  Your pollinator habitat must have plant diversity and plants blooming during the spring, summer and fall months.

Spring Flowering plants that bloom in March, April and May are extremely important for early pollinators such as mason bees, honey bees and queen bumblebees.

MJ

Acer rubrum – Red Maple

Allium textile – Textile Onion

Aquilegia canadensis – Columbine

Baptisia australis – Blue False Indigo

Baptisia australis v. minor – Dwarf False Indigo

Ceanothus americanus – New Jersey Tea

Cercis canadensis – Redbud

Chionodoxa sp. – Glory-of-the-Snow

Cornus sp. – Dogwood

Erysimum asperum – Western Wallflower

Geranium maculatum – Wild Geranium

Leucocrinum montanum – Starlily

Lindera benzoin – Spicebush

Lithospermum incisum – Narrowleaf Stoneseed

Malus sp. – Apple, Crabapple

Phlox andicola – Prairie Phlox

Phlox bifida – Sand Phlox

Phlox divaricata – Blue Phlox

Phlox hoodii – Spiny Phlox

Prunus sp. – Pear, Plum

Prunus virginiana – Chokecherry

Pulsatilla patens – Pasqueflower

Rhus aromatica – Fragrant Sumac

Rhus trilobata – Skunkbush Sumac

Rubus sp. – Blackberry, Raspberry

Salix humilis – Prairie Willow

Sanguinaria canadensis – Bloodroot

Senecio plattensis – Prairie Ragwort

Sheperdia argentea – Buffaloberry

Thermopsis rhombifolia – Prairie Thermopsis

Viola pedatifida – Bird’s Foot Viola

Yucca glauca – Yucca, Soapweed

Happy Arbor Day!

Today is Arbor Day. If you are planting a tree today or this weekend, consider planting a tree that would benefit pollinators.  Trees to consider include: oak, red maple, crabapple, black cherry, American Linden, hackberry, plums and eastern redbud.  If you do not have room for a tree consider planting shrubs. Shrubs that are good for pollinators are: dogwood, sumac, buttonbush, seven sons flower, elderberry and viburnum. The Nebraska Forest Service has an excellent website to help you with tree selection, tree planting directions and tree care. Visit them at: http://nfs.unl.edu/

MJ

oak

Oak tree

button

Buttonbush flower.

seven

Seven sons flower.

red bud tree

Eastern redbud tree.

Spring in the Pollinator Habitat

Spring is here at the pollinator habitat.  Many of our native plants have started to grow. Prairie ragwort, shell-leaf penstemon, bee balm and purple poppy mallow are all leafing out.  The wild plum is blooming! Approximately two weeks earlier than last year.

MJ