This is a big shout-out to Sherrie Pelsma, the face behind Portland's Pollinator Parkways (also seen on my Biodiversity page). Sherrie has created a Do-it-Yourself Manual for home-owners who would like to "Flip their Strip", i.e. convert their turf-grass parking strip into a pollinator habitat. This is an excellent resource that will guide you through all the steps of transforming your "hell-strip". The manual is packed with clear instructions, shady/sunny plant lists and planting guides, and photos. You can also follow Pollinator Parkways on Facebook for updates and to share your photos. I have included Sherrie's manual as a pdf download. Have fun with your strip!
Pollinator Parkways has created over 6000 square feet of pollinator habitat. Thank you Sherrie, for your community spirit and inspiration!
Pollinator Parkway's Do-it-Yourself Manual:
Art credit: New Yorker magazine cover, March 2010
The insidiousness of systemic pesticides is that the pesticide is absorbed into the tissues of the plant, which causes it to poison any insect or mammal that eats its leaves or fruit or harvests its nectar and pollen. In addition, these chemicals leach into the soil and groundwater where they mix with other pesticides and herbicides to create a toxic cocktail and become pervasive in both farmed and wild habitats. Kind of makes me worried for all the things that could go wrong...
A 2016 study, Increasing neonicotinoid use and the declining butterfly fauna of lowland California and a similar study in the UK, Are neonicotinoid insecticides driving declines of widespread butterflies? show that our butterfly and honeybee populations are in peril along with other non-target insect species and small mammals. No surprise here.
Are we prepared for a world without pollinators? The need for hand-pollination by humans? What will the birds and fish and frogs eat? It truly is time to put a stop to this madness.
Learn more from the Bee Protective campaign at Center for Food Safety.
Download full-size PDF at Center for Food Safety
How the EPA's pesticide self-reporting policy works
Good news for bees this week:
EcoWatch: California to Officially List Key Ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup as Cancer-Causing
UK Bug Life: Wild Bee Declines and Neonics Case Closed-What Next?
Beyond Pesticides: Did Dow Chemical Influence the EPA Decision to Reverse the Chlorpyrifos Ban?
and Consumers Sue Monsanto for Misleading Label of Round-up Herbicide
Meanwhile, Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dupont, Croplife America (the biotech giants who own the world's seed, pesticide, and biotech industries) are once again attempting to use slick PR tactics to muddy the waters concerning the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticides. They are just a few of the members of the "Honey Bee Health Coalition" who want you to understand the real reasons why bees are dying and how they are working-together with farmers and beekeepers-to remedy the situation. Don't fall for it, this is a continuation of Bayer's slimy high-production Follow the Honey strategy for spinning the bee crisis to protect their profits.
Girl Next Door Honey has written an excellent post about Why the Bees Are Dying. Thank you Hillary, for your erudite thoughts.
related BeePeeking posts
Who Cares? (Hint: not Bee Care)
The Insidious Pesticide Glyphosate
Pesticides & Children
Xerces Society How Neonicotinoids Can Kill Bees summary
I would like to introduce you to two of my favorite honey bee entrepreneurs: both of these women are not only beekeepers, but are also mentors, educators, and stewards of the environment.
Hillary Kearney of San Diego, California says, Girl Next Door Honey isn’t your typical honey business; we want to reach out to the community on every level. We offer raw, natural, uber local honey, beekeeping classes and workshops, one-on-one consulting, a host-a-hive program, kid’s bee presentations and we perform live bee removals. So whether you’re a foodie, aspiring beekeeper, concerned bee supporter or just wanting to have a beehive in your yard we’ve got you covered...Our goal is to raise San Diego’s bee population throughout the city and at the same time spread awareness among the community. Our hope is that these backyard hives will facilitate a dialogue among neighbors, friends, family and the community at large about the importance of bees. We like to think of it as pollinating hearts and minds." Hillary also hosts the Beekeeping Like a Girl blog.
The above images are from Girl Next Door Honey website
The Bee Girl Organization "is a nonprofit with a mission to inspire and empower communities to conserve bees, their flowers, and our food system."
"The Bee Girl, founded by Sarah Red-Laird, aims to conserve our bees by educating the public on their importance through our programs focused on community classes and events, public lectures, our Kids and Bees program. The Bee Girl organization also facilitates the Farming for Bees initiative, empowering and recognizing land managers who provide habitat for our bees. Bee Girl engages with communities across the nation, and the globe, spreading knowledge and bringing a sense of wonder from the hive to the people" (Bee Girl Mission statement).
Sarah says, “If you can capture the heart and imagination of a child, and release the sweetness and light of the honeybee in them- they will never forget it. By saving the bee, they will save our world.”
The Bee Girl is based in Ashland, Oregon, but travels widely to spread the buzz.
The above images are from The Bee Girl website
Bombus mixtus enjoying the sage blossoms and snowberry in our front yard
Honeybee collecting nectar=Sage Honey this fall
©Tracey Byrne 2017
Did you know that almost 90% of all flowering plants rely on animals, rather than the wind, for pollination? Over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. The vast majority of animal pollinators are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies and moths; of these, bees pollinate the largest number of plant species. About 1,000 species of pollinators are hummingbirds, bats and other small mammals (Pollinator Partnership, 2017).
Visit Pollinator Partnership and bee inspired with ways to support all our pollinators
We had both Red Admiral and the Spring Azure butterflies visiting; look how TINY the Spring Azure is, perched on a forget-me-not. The Vosnesenskii bumblebee is our most numerous bombus, and the tiny metallic green bee with striking black and yellow stripes is an Agapostemon, or male sweat bee, a member of the Halictidae family. They are considered solitary but often nest communally in the ground. Also, apparently not good swimmers (I rescued this little guy from the birdbath :^)
The Difference Between Honeybees and Bumblebees
Did you know that there are more than 4500 species of bees that live in the US and Canada, and worldwide over 20,000 species have been identified?
Many urban dwellers have not had enough experience with backyard pollinators to easily tell the difference between bees and wasps. For me, it is similar to how you can tell a cat from a dog, or robin from a spotted towhee–not only do they look different, but their movements and habits are unique.
You can often ID your backyard bugs by where you find them and what activity they are engaged in. You will find medium-sized golden-brown to black honeybees (photos right) busy flying back and forth between flowers, loading up on pollen and nectar, and zipping back to their hive. Bumblebees (photos left) are generally larger and fuzzier that the honeybee, many with black, orange, or yellow stripes. I consider bumblebees to be the “teddy-bear” of bees, and the most photogenic. Honeybees tend to be sleeker and less hairy than the bumblebees, but both carry pollen on their back legs.
Swarming honeybees are docile; they have nothing to protect–as they are merely scoping out the real estate in your neighborhood. The honeybee swarm consists of a healthy queen and upwards of about 10,000 of her workers. Call your local poison-free bee-guy to come collect them, and they will be relocated to a good home.
Of all the bees, we know the most about our domesticated non-native European honeybees, not only for their pollination efforts but also for the food, candles, and medicinal products derived from their honey, pollen, wax, propolis, and venom. Honeybees are the outliers in the bee family. They, along with bumblebees, are social insects, which means that they work together in the hive to raise their young and make honey. Most other bees are solitary, do not care for their offspring, and a whopping 70% of all bees live in the ground.
Bumblebee nests can be found in the ground, in abandoned birdhouses, or in attics. Their nests are nothing like the honeybee's neat and tidy honeycomb (top); instead, they look really primitive, and a bit cobbled together (below). The bumblebee queen hibernates over the winter, so bumblebees need gather only enough nectar and pollen to raise the brood each season. Honeybees must store enough honey and pollen to allow the workers and queen to survive the winter.
Bee or Wasp?
Bees: fuzzy, friendly, busy-but not aggressive, flight patterns are direct. Variations in size and color from golden brown to green to black, thick legs with pollen baskets, nectar gatherers; nest in ground, woodpiles, hives, attics, and walls.
Wasps and hornets: often aggressive, many carnivorous, striking yellow-black or white-black pattern that shouts CAUTION! Shiny, long thin legs (no fuzz or pollen basket-), wasp-waist, annoying at picnics, zig-zag flight pattern, paper nests found in trees or under eaves.
poster by Alex Surcica
Narrated by Cedar Anderson, the inventor of the FLOW hive.
Bonus double-feature for you today :^) also from Flow.
Re-posted from the Center for Food Safety
Popcorn's Dirty Secret" won the 2015 Digital Edge award!
It’s no secret we love popcorn. We Americans consume more than 16 billion quarts of popcorn each year. But we’re getting more than we bargained for in all those bowls of popcorn: bee-toxic pesticides.
Bees are dying at alarming rates, and scientists have identified a group of insecticides called neonicotinoids (“neonics”) as a prime culprit in these drastic population losses. The largest single use of neonicotinoids is as a seed coating for field crops (like corn, soy, canola, and wheat). In fact, researchers estimate that 95-99% of all field corn grown in the U.S. comes from seed coated with bee-toxic neonic chemicals.
Neonics are the most widely used insecticides in the world. What makes them different from most pesticides is that they are systemic chemicals, meaning they are dispersed throughout the treated plant, rendering the whole plant toxic. Just as alarming, neonics are shown to last in the environment for years, harming species that the chemical was not designed to kill – like bees, butterflies, birds, and other helpful insects.
Unfortunately, the popcorn industry uses bee-killing chemicals on their seeds, too. That’s why we’re calling on Pop Secret, one of the biggest brands in the industry, to urge them to source their popcorn from seeds that are NOT coated in these harmful chemicals.
Pop Secret would not be alone in taking action against neonics:
The American Bird Conservancy reports that "a single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoud can kill a songbird", and the Center for Food Safety reports that they are polluting our water systems too.
It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. - Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
original collage by Maggie Taylor, with head replacement by me :^)
Several weeks ago I reported that one of our three hives had been infested with aerial yellowjackets. I had been hopeful, after a vigilant weekend of using my swarm-capture bee vacuum to suck them up, that they were finished for the summer, but this morning they were back in force...and so was I.
This is how they look after being caught in the act, as they leave the hive with their loot: MAD.
I do not normally have a charge for these little pollinators, but, it seems wasteful for them to demolish one of my hives as they themselves will be dying off for the winter soon. Only the yellowjacket queens winter-over, and emerge in the spring to start a new colony.