Fall in the Habitat

We have been enjoying beautiful fall days this week in the pollinator habitat.  Chris helped me unload another truck load of bark.  Thank you Chris and I promise this is the last load for this year. Soni and I spread the bark and placed new pavers, donated by Jim.  The pavers make it easier to walk through our dry stream bed that was added for erosion control and direct foot traffic through the habitat.  I planted the seeds of native plants that we have collected this month. We also have planted several trees. Redbud, oak and spruce trees will benefit all wildlife when they mature.

MJ

View of habitat in the fall.

View of habitat in the fall.

New paver walkway.

New paver walkway.

Praying mantis in container flowers looking for next meal.

Praying mantis in container flowers looking for next meal.

Advertisements

I “See” You!

We rarely go out into the Cherry Creek Habitat without a camera of some sort. You never know what you might see. When I’m strolling around, I try to have at least my cell phone with me! Today was one of those days when I could’ve missed documenting something special – – –

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

Common Yarrow in the Habitat

The yarrow has been a great addition to the Cherry Creek Habitat. It also makes a super hiding place. Do you see it?

Baby bullsnake in the yarrow

If you look close at the first photo, here’s the baby bullsnake who found a great hiding place right in the center of the yarrow. Very cool

 

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!

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

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

We’re getting ready for the pollinators – Spring!

Purple Poppy Mallow - March 2014

Purple Poppy Mallow – March 2014


It’s officially the first day of Spring!
It might not look like much to most folks, but I was doing a happy dance when I saw the purple poppy mallow in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat starting to send up new leaves. This native wildflower will bloom from late spring through summer. It thrives in disturbed areas, along roadsides, ditches and overgrazed areas. In the garden, it is a sprawling plant full of beautiful magenta flowers.

While the purple poppy mallow is doing well, we’re going to have to replant the white clover. The local rabbits took care of our patch over the winter to the point where it won’t recover. Good thing I have plenty in my yard to share!

Also on our “to-do” list: Move the bee nest box structure outdoors, a stream clean-up and start expanding the habitat to the west. We have a lot to do!

We put together some information to help you attract pollinators to your landscape, along with the directions to make your own bee nest boxes…. You have plenty of time to make your own nest boxes and get them outdoors!

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

Landscaping for Pollinators – Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

Insect hotel in pollinator habitat.

Insect hotel in pollinator habitat.

Our friend and colleague, Kendall Weyers from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, recently wrote a nice article on landscaping with pollinators….Thanks Kendall!

Kendall – “Mention pollinators in the landscape, and the first thought of most homeowners is the butterfly. Everyone loves to see this beautiful creature floating on a summer breeze, and some gardeners select plants specifically for them.”

“Yet it is important to remember there is a long list of pollinators beyond butterflies. A wide range of bees, beetles, moths, flies, ants, birds and even bats all play an important role in pollination. Unfortunately these roles and their effectiveness have diminished in our highly fragmented or entirely altered native ecosystems. Weather changes, heavy use of non-native plants and pesticide use also have contributed to the decline of pollinators.”

Be sure to visit the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Web site and blog for more information on pollinators, plants and our landscapes. http://arboretum.unl.edu/

Enjoy!

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

Planning Your Garden & Pollinator-friendly Habitat

Rain barrel donated to our habitat project.

Rain barrel donated to our habitat project.

Some resources you may enjoy as you plan for spring! Be sure to include pollinator-friendly practices and habitats in your landscape plan:

What you can do right now! Now’s the time to start planning your insect and native bee habitat and nesting structures. We have some photos on the blog to help give you some ideas. From the February 2013 NEBLINE Newsletter (free) Attracting Pollinators to Your Landscape (includes directions to make a native bee nesting block) and Biology of Native Bee Pollinators. Grab those scrap pieces of lumber and start drilling!

Are your seeds OK? Have you been saving seeds for your garden? There’s a simple experiment to see if your seeds are still good.  http://lancaster.unl.edu/hort/articles/2004/seedsaving.shtml

Need inspiration? Take a look at these photos from Benjamin Vogt. Vogt lives in Lincoln and has a 2,000 sq ft native prairie garden. It is absolutely beautiful. Here he documents his prairie garden through the year (with some other photos thrown in!) Enjoy The| Deep| Middle – Living and Writing in the Prairie Echo

Reading suggestions to help get you through this cold winter – from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum’s blog “Beneficial Landscapes: the plants, wildlife, soil and water for our gardens” http://beneficiallandscapes.blogspot.com/

Add a Rain barrel – Try Harvesting Rainwater: We have a rain barrel for the Cherry Creek Habitat. Of course, it isn’t big enough to catch all the water run off – but it has been handy when we want to water specific plants. Consider adding a rain barrel and try other rainwater harvesting techniques this year! To help – UNL Extension has a brand new NebGuide. It provides information on how to use, install and collect rainwater. Rain barrels can be purchased or made. This publication is on-line and you can access it free! http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=1612

Just announced! 2014 Artistic Rain Barrel Program: Prairie Theme! The Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center and the City of Lincoln Watershed Management Division are collaborating on a project to educate the community on the benefits of using rain barrels to reduce rainwater runoff and improve water quality. Local artists are invited to paint prairie themed designs on a rain barrel to celebrate the role prairies play in filtering stormwater runoff. The deadline to apply to participate is February 7, 2014http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/pworks/watrshed/educate/barrel/artist/

Landscape Sustainability:  Sustainable landscapes describes landscapes supporting environmental quality and conservation of natural resources. For many people, a sustainable landscape is hard to understand or visualize. Other terms such as xeriscape, native landscape, and environmentally friendly landscape have been used interchangeably to describe sustainable landscapes.A well-designed sustainable landscape reflects a high level of self-sufficiency. Once established, it should grow and mature virtually on its own — as if nature had planted it. This UNL Extension publication is available on-line free http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/pages/publicationD.jsp?publicationId=203

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