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…



Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification

I am so excited to make this announcement and proud to be part of this Pollinator Habitat Certification team. Here at our office, we plan to certify the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat and I want to also certify my home pollinator garden.


Do you love gardening and want to help pollinators?  Consider developing your landscape into a pollinator habitat. This month, a team of Nebraska Extension horticulture professionals, led by Extension Educator Natalia Bjorklund, launched a new program called Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification.  This program gives Nebraskans an opportunity to certify their garden and promote pollinators in their community.

To certify their habitat, gardeners need to provide spring, summer and fall blooming plants that support pollinator needs, a water source, shelter, nesting sites and restrict pesticide use. Gardeners will be asked to make a commitment to protect pollinators and provide a diverse plant community that will result in a pollinator habitat.

This program is open to Nebraska  homeowners, schools, businesses, parks,  homeowner associations, farmers, acreage owners and community gardens.

Please visit the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification website to view the certification application.


Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.


Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat Summer 2015

Teaching Youth about Pollinators

Yesterday Soni and I were presenters at the Outdoor Discovery Program held at Platte River State Park.  The weather was perfect, sunny, with a slight breeze. We taught 4th graders about pollinators and what they need for a habitat. We discussed one out of every three bites of food we eat is there because of pollinators. We asked the youth if they could make a list of pollinators and they easily mentioned bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds. The kids were surprised to learn that flies and beetles could be pollinators too. We talked about native solitary bees and showed them bee houses.The youth were able to view pollinators in action since it was a beautiful spring day and there were blooming wild plums near our site.  The kids were provided journals so they could record their observations. Thank you Nebraska Game and Parks for providing youth this wonderful educational opportunity.


Waiting for kids to arrive.

Waiting for kids to arrive.

Collecting Seeds

Common milkweed seeds ready to relocate by the wind.

Common milkweed seeds ready to relocate by the wind.

Another beautiful fall day!  It is a perfect day to collect seeds from native plants.  Our milkweeds are going to seed, so it is important to collect some before they all go poof in the wind.  After collecting the seeds, you can replant them in a new location as soon as possible. They will germinate next spring.  If you are saving the seeds, be sure to give them time to dry out completely before you store them.  They will rot if not dried properly.  Be sure to label the envelope or container you store them in.

Monarch Watch needs milkweed seed donations to continue their Monarch habitat restoration efforts. Monarch Watch is a nonprofit educational outreach program based at the University of Kansas. Visit their website at  to learn more about their efforts in saving monarch butterflies.


Swamp milkweed seeds.

Swamp milkweed seeds.

When a thistle makes you smile…

Native thistles like this tall thistle, are important to our pollinators. Remember, not all thistles are bad. It didn’t take long for the bumble bees and skipper to find this beautiful thistle flower. The tall thistles are just starting to bloom in the Cherry Creek Habitat. We can’t wait!!

Native thistles are both beautiful and important to our pollinators.

Enjoy “A Pasture Poem” by Richard Wilbur featuring the “thistle”
– also set to music (full text of the poem follows)

Continue reading

When the honey bees swarm…

Honey bees swarming July 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by Barb Ogg, Exxtension Educator

Honey bees swarming July 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Photo by Barb Ogg, Extension Educator

A co-worker in our office captured an exciting event on her backyard fence last night – a honey bee swarm.  Sometimes honey bee colonies send off swarms with one queen and several thousand workers. This a natural event for honey bees. Typically bee colonies trigger a swarm when the colony is overcrowded, usually in early summer. This swarm is moving to a new site a little later in the season.

During the move to a new site, the queen bee will select a place to rest while scouts look for a new home. She’ll choose a fence, tree branch or even a spot on the ground. While the queen rests, the worker bees cluster around her.  The swarm stays clustered around the queen until scout bees chose a permanent site for their colony. This may take a a few hours or a couple of days. Once the site is chosen, the swarm quickly breaks apart and leaves. (This is a good time to remind everyone to make sure your home doesn’t have any gaps or cracks where the scout bees could move the colony. Seal and caulk these openings immediately.) Continue reading

Can Wasp Be Pollinators?

Can wasp be pollinators? Yes they can, but some are better than others. Wasp with hairs on their bodies are better at being pollinators than those with few hairs. Pollen sticks easily to hairy bodies making it easy to be passed around from flower to flower as insects move through the garden. Many wasp are beneficial because they are also predators. Not only do they help pollinate, but they also keep pest insects in check.

Wasp feeding on nectar - Cherry Creek Habitat

Wasp feeding on nectar – Cherry Creek Habitat

If you’ve planted a pollinator-friendly garden, you’ll find many wasp species visiting your plants. Take a moment to pause and enjoy these amazing insects. Even social wasp like yellow jackets and paper wasp are quite docile while feeding because they aren’t trying to defend a nest. Solitary wasp like mud daubers, cicada killers, spider wasp and more make great subjects for those who enjoy photography.

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!


UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

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!


UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

It’s National Moth Week

Moths are pollinators too! Hummingbird Moth feeding

Moths are pollinators too! Hummingbird Moth feeding (photo by Karen Wedding)

From the USDA Forest Service…. Moth Pollination

After dark, moths and bats take over the night shift for pollination. Nocturnal flowers with pale or white flowers heavy with fragrance and copious dilute nectar, attract these pollinating insects. Not all moth pollinators are nocturnal; some moths are also active by day. Some moths hover above the flowers they visit while others land.

July 19-27 is National Moth Week! Time to celebrate “the moth”! Scientists estimate there may be up to 500,000 species of moths. Their diversity seems endless. Some moths are active in the daytime, others at dusk and still more at night. How may of us have enjoyed the beauty of a hummingbird moth as it sips nectar from flowers in the garden. These moths are called also called hawk moths, sphinx moths, clearwing moths and bee-hawk moths.

Some moths like the polyphemus,cecropia and luna moths don’t even have mouthparts as adults. These large beautiful moths do all of their feeding as caterpillars. As adults, they only live a few days – long enough to mate and for the female to lay eggs. If you want to attract these moths to a habitat, learn about the food plants for the larvae of moths. Fortunately, the Cherry Creek Habitat has some of the trees favored by many beautiful moths and butterflies.

You can celebrate moth week by learning more about the moths in your area. Here are tips from the National Moth Week Web site to help you attract moths for observation. You’ll also find a bait recipe to help lure in moths so you can watch them.

Here’s to sharing the buzz!


UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

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!


UNL Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –