This week I visited the Calvert Rec Center Pollinator Garden. Two Nebraska Extension Lancaster County Master Gardeners, Nance and Mary, planted and maintain this garden as a volunteer project. They have planted many native plants that are labeled for the public to view. They have installed a bee water station and have spent hours weeding this impressive garden site. Thank you for hard work and dedication to pollinators!
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!
Every Tuesday Lancaster County Master Gardeners assist Dave from our office at the City Mission Garden. Dave started the garden a few years ago as education outreach for Mission residents who wanted to learn to garden. Residents come and go, but Dave and the master gardeners are there consistently through the spring, summer and fall. Vegetables are collected each week and used in the City Mission kitchen. Today they had broccoli, onions and herbs. Master Gardener Jane planted wildflowers and now there is a beautiful pollinator garden too. She hopes to have a good selection of plants that bloom during each season to apply for the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program.
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.
It is National Pollinator Week! I am happy to share that the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program has revised its application with an updated and bigger plant list! Hope you will consider applying to this program. Take a look at the application for the list of plants you might add to your landscape to benefit 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.
Nearly 70 people attended the Pollinator Class and Open House last night at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat located at the Lancaster County Extension Office. Those attending included Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification members, Master Gardeners and citizens from several southeastern Nebraska communities who wanted to know more about pollinators and the Habitat Certification program. After a habitat tour, delicious food and a power point program on the benefits of pollinators, the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Team held a Q&A session. Great discussion and concern expressed on how to help pollinators and increase habitat. A perfect evening!
NE Pollinator Habitat Certification Team-Mary Jane, Kathleen, Natalia and Scott
On April 6 the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is the venue for a Pollinator Class and Open House. The Nebraska Pollinator Certification Team is hosting this event to recognize the 30 Certified Habitats and invite the public to learn more about the program and pollinators. Pre-registration is required by April 3.