Oh those Mason Bees….

Blue Orchard Mason Bee - Look at all the pollen!

Blue Orchard Mason Bee – Look at all the pollen!

This past week, Blue Orchard Mason Bees showed up in the Cherry Creek Habitat. We wondered if they would make an appearance. These robust bees are not native to Nebraska, but are important pollinators in other parts of the United States. We posted information about them May 2013 – Blue Orchard Mason Bees.

If you discover these bees in your garden, take a few moments to enjoy them. They are a little tricky to photograph as they move quickly from flower to flower, but they are fun to watch as they roll around in the flowers collecting pollen.

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 Redbud and the Bees

Redbud and leaf-cutter bee signs

Leaf-cutter bees are using this redbud to help line their nesting cells.

I’ve been carefully tending two Eastern redbud seedlings in my garden at home. The little tree seedlings have survived two major hail storms this past month and yet, they are growing nice and straight. This week while the temperatures are cool, I’ll carefully pot them up so we can transplant them into the Cherry Creek Habitat this fall.

The Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), is native to the eastern US, including eastern Nebraska. It grows in the wild on moist soils in valleys or bottomlands, as an understory tree in open woods. At maturity, the redbud is 15 to 30 feet tall.— Acreage Insights Plant of the Month

When I went out to check on the redbuds this morning, it looks like one of our native bees has also found the seedlings. The circular cuts in the leaves are one of the clues to leafcutter bees – one of our important native pollinators. Pretty excited to see they are in my yard! Although soon, the bees will have to use leaves from my mature redbuds for their nesting cells. Check out this information about leafcutter bees from UNL Extension’s Backyard Farmer series.

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

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

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

 

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.

We are in business!

Bee Hotel

Looking west – Native Bee Nest Box is finally outside

The native bee nest box structure that has graced our office lobby this winter has been moved outdoors into the Cherry Creek Habitat. We did as much as we could to make the structure weather sturdy. The bookshelf/roof and table were treated to be water resistant. The back was covered with a special material and today, I finished up the structure with some caulking. The nesting blocks were put in place and now we wait… OK – honestly, it looks terrific!

We keep adding to the pollinator area with natives, herbs, fruiting shrubs and grasses. Oregano, serviceberry, penstemon, blue vervain were planted this morning. We have native chokecherry and wild plum waiting for their turn. MJ bought some prairie plants at the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum sale on Friday. She also planted a row of special sunflowers with her daughter over the weekend.

As for wildlife, a pair of red-winged blackbirds have a nest in the cattails behind the native bee nest box structure. They didn’t scold me quite as much today when I was outside working in the habitat. On Friday, there were several Baltimore Orioles in the Cottonwood tree. Grackles have been busy robbing the insect hotel of anything they can make nests out of and of course, we are finding deer tracks in the habitat after it rains.

One of our biggest challenges may be educating our own staff that not all thistles are bad. We have a beautiful second year tall thistle in the habitat. We decided it needed a special sign so it wouldn’t get dug up from helpful folks thinking it is a  noxious weed (it isn’t noxious by the way)… more on that another time 🙂

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

More Bee Hotels Popping Up in Lincoln

Bee Nest Box Structure - Bee Hotel

Bee Nest Box for the Cherry Creek Habitat

The Daily Nebraskan is a student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Today the paper featured a story about “bee hotels” on East Campus and an upcoming UNL Publication – NebGuide to encourage folks to build their own.

We’re excited everyone is promoting the preservation of native bees!

Here is a link to the article in the Daily Nebraskan – “Hoping to preserve bee populations, UNL opens bee hotels”

When the NebGuide is finished, we’ll be sure to post a link. In the meantime, we have a resource for you to help get you started “Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape“. It includes information on making bee nest boxes.

And don’t forget the bumble bees! Here is a link to build your own bumble bee domicile from the UNL Bumble Boosters.

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

 

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

Clean Up Day!

Clean Up Day at Cherry Creek

MJ picking up trash along the creek. Great to get it cleaned up!

Today was clean up day out at the Cherry Creek habitat. Wow! Beautiful weather… finally!!

We picked up a lot of trash from the creek and cut out a mess of wild grape vines that were entangling the cattails. The grape vines were added to a new wildlife brush pile. In addition to finding some nice raccoon scat, MJ found a $5 bill down in the creek! Who says it doesn’t pay to do a clean up!

To see more photos of the Cherry Creek Habitat, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/unlextlanco/collections/72157633474612381/

So what’s new at the habitat? We have plants coming up (exciting!) and apparently, the habitat was a “stomping ground” for several deer recently. Good thing most of our plants aren’t up yet or they would’ve been salad for the deer! The native bee habitat will be moved outside soon after we add a small roof.

I hope you are all gathering up your scrap lumber, planning your insect/wildlife structures and thinking about plants and practices to benefit our native pollinators!

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

Bumble Boosters!

“Like many other important native pollinators, bumble bees are threatened by habitat loss, chemical use, and disease. Availability of nest sites is a key factor limiting bumble bee populations. Bumble bees do not make their nest. They instead locate abandoned rodent dens in which to establish a colony. There is high competition for these nest sites. Queen bumble bees will kill each other for control of a natural nest site.” From “Build a Better Domicile” at http://bumbleboosters.unl.edu/

You can help encourage bumble bees by building a better bumble bee “home”. Since 1999, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Bumble Boosters has partnered with public and private organizations to encourage the conservation of bees and other invertebrate pollinators. The primary mission of Bumble Boosters is promoting the benefits of pollinators and public science literacy through engagement in authentic research with native pollinators. The “Build a Better Domicle” project encourages you to be a citizen scientist! Although the project is all out of bumble bee domicles for 2014, you can build your own. For information, contact bumbleboosters@unl.edu

To learn more about Bumble Boosters, visit http://bumbleboosters.unl.edu and join on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/unlbumbleboosters!

We’re strongly considering a bumble bee domicle for the Cherry Creek project! Time to get building! And don’t forget, now’s a great time to make your insect hotels and native bee nest boxes – http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/354Pollinators.pdf

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