What's in Your Pocket? What's in Your Pocket shares information on pollinator-friendly garden designs. Sun, 15 May 2005 13:02:08 -0500 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/rss.xml Plant a Pollinator Pocket! https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_11080/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 14:58:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_11080/ Are you interested in promoting pollinator conservation efforts across the state?  BEE a positive influence on pollinator populations and plant a Pollinator Pocket today!  Pollinator Pockets are small spaces of flowering plants that can attract and nurture insect pollinators.

You can now register your site as an official University of Illinois Extension Pollinator Pocket.  Click here to access the online registration. Once registered, your site will be added to our online map, showing Pollinator Pockets throughout the state.

As part of the registration process, you have the option to purchase a 9" x 6" aluminum sign designating your site as an official Pollinator Pocket.  A copy of the sign is attached to this email.  Members of the general public may purchase their sign for $15.00, however, we are offering a special price to certified Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists.  To receive your sign discount, please enter the code POCKET when prompted during the registration.

To BEE notified of news and updates about the Pollinator Pocket Program, click here to be added to our email list.

Please contact Trent Hawker with any questions at tkhawke2@illinois.edu.

Mitigating Pollinator Decline in Landscapes https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10793/ Thu, 03 Dec 2015 13:04:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10793/ The University of Minnesota Extension hosted a webinar on Dec 1 entitled "Mitigating Pollinator Decline in Landscapes" that was very informative. The pdf of the presentations and the videos will be posted by Dec 10, 2015 at learn extension website. The remainder of this article summarizes the key points of the session.

There are over 4000 species of native bees in North America. Nearly 90% of native bees are solitary unlike honey bees that live in large perennial colonies. The nesting habits of wild bees are quite different than honey bees with 70% nesting in the ground and 30% nesting in plant stems, rotting wood, and standing dead trees. Native bees depend almost exclusively on flowers for their full life cycle and they are significant for native plant and crop pollination.

Approximately 1/3 of the human diet is sourced by bee pollinated crops. If all bees were gone, it would decimate the fruit and produce section of the supermarket.

Mitigating pollinator decline comes down to delivering the following things that bees need:

  • Good nesting sites
  • Forage for nutrition
  • A safe environment

Our garden practices can dramatically impact bees. Cutting plant material down in late spring and leaving stem stubble provides good nesting sites. Maintaining areas of bare or sparsely vegetated loose soil allows bees to dig and create nests so minimize the use of mulch where possible. Positioning tree logs and rocks among your garden plants also improve the habitat for nesting sites.

Look for nest entrances in early spring to identify where bees are nesting. A ground bee nest looks similar to an anthill, but with a larger opening.

Ensuring pollen and nectar rich flowers are blooming throughout the season provide a steady diet for the bees. Flowers that every pollinator friendly garden should have include:

  • Bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
  • New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago species)

Practice integrated pest management in your garden. Use a combination of management techniques to reduce pests naturally and rely on chemicals only as a last resort. Always check the non-target organisms that your chemicals affect and follow application directions to the letter. Also avoid systemic pesticides.

A combination of factors are negatively impacting bees:

  • Parasites attacking bees
  • Queen loss
  • Pesticide drift
  • Loss of foraging resources to excess turf and loss of CRP land
  • Genetic diversity and vitality loss among honey bees

The webinar featured Dr. Dan Cariveau, Assistant Professor University of Minnesota, on native bee populations; Dr. Karl Foord, Extension Educator, University of Minnesota, on IPM for bees; and Ms. Heather Holm, Author and restorationist.

Photo Above Right: Xerxes Society

Pollination Syndromes https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10387/ Tue, 04 Aug 2015 13:53:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10387/ While words like phalaenophily and psychophily might sound like terms only found in a medical dictionary, pollinator syndromes are actually used to assign certain characterisitics to different flowers.

According to the Pollinator Partnership, pollinator syndromes "describe flower characteristics, or traits, that may appeal to a particular type of pollinator. Such characteristics can be used to predict the type of pollinator that will aid the flower in successful reproduction."

Let's take a look at some of these fascinating pollination syndromes:

Bee Pollination (melittophily)

When asked to picture a bee most people automatically think of the honeybee, but there is actually a great diversity of bees that have many different characteristics. Bee-pollinated flowers are just as diverse. They are generally in the yellow or blue color family and have a pleasant odor. The pollen is usually heavy and fairly sticky so that it can stay attached as the bees move between flowers.

Butterfly Pollination (psychophily)

Butterfly-pollinated flowers usually have quite flashy flowers in colors like pink and purple. These flowers don't have the amount of pollen that bee-attracting flowers do, but they have large supplies of nectar to feed the butterflies. The nectar is normally found at the end of a narrow tube that the butterfly can reach with its long, tongue-like proboscis.

Moth Pollination (phalaenophily)

Moth-pollinated flowers tend to be much less colorful than others, usually pale purple, pink, or white. They usually only open at night and emit a strong, sweet scent to attract the moths. Like butterflies, moths are after the large supply of nectar in the flower.

Fly Pollination (myophily)

Flies are very important pollinators in parts of the world where other insect groups are not as well represented. These flowers are unique in that they produce a strong, sometimes putrid odor to attract the flies. They tend to be rather flat and shallow, and are usually dark brown or purple.

Bird Pollination (ornithophily)

To most of us, hummingbirds are probably the most familiar pollinating birds. Bird-pollinated flowers usually have large reserves of nectar that the birds are after. They are usually found with bright orange or red coloring and have large, flashy, funnel-shaped flowers that allow the hummingbird to access the nectar with their long beaks.

There are also pollination syndromes for bat pollination (chiropterophily), beetle pollination (cantharophily), and even abiotic syndromes for wind and water pollination (anemophily and hydrophily).

It is important to note that just because a flower has all of the characteristics of a certain syndrome; it doesn't mean that it can only be pollinated by one specific type of animal. For example, a single type of flower may be pollinated by both bees and butterflies. The syndromes are just as an easier way to predict what pollinators a flower may attract.

So, now I have a challenge for you. Next time you are out working in your garden or perusing the aisles at your local garden center, take a minute to look at the flowers through a new lens. Examine the shape, size, and color. Try to predict what types of pollinators it may attract. You will begin to see things you had never noticed before and might just learn something new!

Protecting Pollinators - Webinar https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10226/ Tue, 30 Jun 2015 14:05:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10226/ More and more homeowners and gardeners are becoming aware of the threat that insecticides pose to pollinators and they are taking steps to reduce the use of these chemicals on their property.  Seeing this same trend among organizations such as government agencies, schools, hospitals, and businesses is very positive.  If you work for such an organization, read on and consider sharing the information below about an upcoming webinar.

Many organizations spend millions of dollars a year on landscaping and pest management and many have saved significant amounts and decreased the use of toxic chemicals through integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is an effective and environmentally friendly way to manage pests that uses a variety of practical approaches based on the life-cycle and behavior of insect pests. Some organizations have eliminated the use of neonicotinoid pesticides to protect bees and other pollinators. Neonicotinoids are a class of insecticides that affect the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death.

On Wednesday, July 15th, Responsible Purchasing Network (RPN) and Friends of the Earth (FOE) are co-hosting "Saving the Pollinators", a webinar on purchasing strategies government agencies, educational institutions and businesses can take to protect bees and other pollinators.  The webinar is from 1:00pm-3:00pm CDT and one can register here.

During this webinar, you will learn about
(1) the latest scientific findings about neonicotinoids and their impact on pollinators 
(2) what leading organizations are doing to make their landscape and pest management efforts pollinator friendly
(3) how your organization can use its purchasing policies and practices to protect pollinators
(4) resources available to help organizations like yours take steps to adopt pollinator friendly purchasing policies and practices 

Rain Garden Lecture and Tour https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10191/ Mon, 22 Jun 2015 12:17:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10191/ Rain Gardens are a delightful solution to standing water problems in your yard and excessive runoff to the storm sewer. A rain garden is typically a smaller garden in a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. The garden holds the water for a short time allowing it to be absorbed into the soil. Plants are selected based on their ability to withstand the extremes of moisture and concentrations of nutrients. And there is no reason your rain garden cannot do double duty as a pollinator friendly habitat.

The Champaign County Master Gardeners and the East Central Illinois Master Naturalists invite you to learn more about rain gardens at the following events:

    • Rain Garden lecture on Monday, July 13 6:30-8:00pm, UI Extension Auditorium, 801 N. Country Fair Drive, Champaign, IL 61821
    • Rain Garden tour on Tuesday, July 21 5:00-7:00pm, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation,302 N 1st St, Champaign, IL 61820

Registration is required by July 10. Another good source of information on rain gardens is Prairie Rivers Network.
National Pollinator Week June 15-21 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10135/ Tue, 09 Jun 2015 12:57:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10135/ activities happening in the Champaign-Urbana area celebrating our pollinators. Why not pick one or two to participate in. And don't forget to visit the University of Illinois Pollinatarium where children of all ages can learn about pollinators.

Read on and learn some things you could do to help our pollinators survive and thrive.

80% of bees nest in soils
  • To help them find homes, limit mulch and leave bare patches of soil.
Household and garden pesticides can harm bees
  • Eliminate or greatly reduce pesticide use.  Check out less toxic or natural alternatives.
Pollinators are active and flying from late March until October
  • Plant many pollinator friendly flowers that bloom through the season.
  • Plant native species.
BeeBlitz on June 21, 2015 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10111/ Thu, 04 Jun 2015 12:42:00 +0000 https://web.extension.illinois.edu/cfiv/eb384/entry_10111/ National Pollinator Week.
As you may be aware, BeeSpotter is a citizen science project to track bee populations in order to help scientists better understand bee demographics.  Participation as a citizen scientist is really very easy and so valuable.  Simply snap pictures of any bees you see and upload them to the BeeSpotter website.  Well, "simply" may be an overstatement since you do have to snap fast and zoom in to get a good picture.  These photos are used by experts to identify the species and make the information publicly searchable on the BeeSpotter website so understanding the photo requirements is recommended.
BeeBlitz is an attempt to get more people involved in this citizen science effort and become familiar with BeeSpotter. BeeSpotter is a joint project of the Department of Entomology and the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.