It’s back!!!

Bee houses are off to Amazon, and should be ready for purchase by Friday! What a wait that was for all of us!

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Mason Bee Larva!

Check out this video to spy some live mason bee larva.

Below is a picture of the inside of my observation native bee house.  You are looking at two males nestled in the top rows resting, and three individual egg cells filled with pollen and nectar, and separated by mud in the bottom rows.  This is before the eggs hatched into larva, and the video I took tonight shows the larva, which are growing more chubby every day.  The next phase will be the larva spinning a cocoon around themselves to develop into pupa and then adults, which will emerge next March.  This is so cool watching the entire process!

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Making History

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In 2017 I find myself busier than ever toiling away at raising awareness for pollinators, many of which are insects that people generally dismiss as nuisances. Everyday I rise with the sun and begin pondering ways to reach people regarding the importance of pollinators, and many of my days I don’t have the privilege of witnessing the fruits of this labor, but I press on nevertheless, in hopes of reaching even the smallest of numbers to promote positive change.  I have been very fortunate to meet some amazing people on this journey who are also tirelessly toiling away for change.

2016 marked the beginning of my involvement with, and the establishment of the Colorado Pollinator Network, and what a wonderful journey this has been! We are looking forward to establishing the first annual Colorado Pollinator Month, which will take place in June of every year.  Our goal is to create state-wide awareness around pollinators to bring about positive change for pollinator species in our state.  My team on the Education and Outreach Workgroup has been working to invite as many entities as we can to help raise awareness during the month of June, and I cannot tell you how thankful I am for my team!

I am so very lucky to be working on Colorado Pollinator Month with:

Amanda Accamando (co-chairs the Education and Outreach Workgroup with me) of Hudson Gardens, Angela Jewett of Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, Rebecca Coon of CU Museum of Natural History, Jane Crayton of CSU Extension of Pueblo, Deryn Davidson of CSU Extension of Boulder, Jessica Romer of Denver Urban Gardens,  of Audubon Rockies, Greta Mae of BBBSeeds.

All the hard work we have been putting in has been supported by Public Policy and Advocacy Workgroup of the Colorado Pollinator Network.  They brought a proclamation  to make Colorado Pollinator Month official, and thus a lasting mark on our state, to Governor John Hickenlooper, and he signed it!

When my family heard this news our house erupted with celebratory cheering!  My team of awesome go-getters were overjoyed.  This is a moment I will never forget, and I will always smile when June rolls around in Colorado, because we have already begun making history for pollinators!

Now, let’s do this!  Look for #pollinateCO to see the happenings for pollinators in June, and tag some pollinator photos of your own too.

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I am buzzing with excitement, and determined to keep this state beautiful.

Jessica

Colorado Pollinator Garden

Happy spring!  I often get the question, “what can I do to really help pollinators?”  My response is always to encourage people to plant more flowers.  These flowers must be pesticide free to really be of any use to “helping” pollinators, and a tri-season blooming garden is most helpful, as there can be dry spells otherwise, leaving little to no food sources for our pollinating friends.

Lucky for you, Colorado is nearing the “safe” time to plant, and I thought it would be beneficial to share with you a list I have compiled to for pollinator gardens in Colorado yards!

I did some research to construct a garden consisting of food for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, as well as many other pollinators in Colorado.  Additionally, I have chosen plants that would bloom at varying times to provide food for pollinators from spring to fall.

Here’s the list:

Lavender

Yarrow

Turkish Veronica

Dalmation daisy

Catmint (bees of all sizes congregate on this plant)

Hissop/Agastache (of any variety, especially the red ones)

Coneflowers

Columbines

Hummingbird trumpet mint

Chocolate flower

Smooth blue aster

Cashmere sage

Russian sage

Bluebeard

Rabbitbrush

Mountain Mahogany

Sedum

Yucca 

And here are some more with pictures for your enjoyment!

img_4848Sunflowers are always wonderful for pollinators, and later for songbirds.

img_4447Salvia 

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Lupine

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Bee Balm

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Blanket Flower

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Penstemon

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White Aster

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Black-eyed Susans 

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Wildflower mix from BBBseed

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It’s the perfect time to get a plan together for planting in just a few weeks!  And with Colorado Pollinator Month on the horizon (JUNE), it would be good to have flowers blooming in your yard so you can snap some pictures of pollinators and join the #pollinateCO campaign across the state.  Let’s recognize the creatures that make our state colorful.  Look for these posters across the state this June.  At the end of May go to coloradopollinatormonth.com for a list of events related to pollinators.

12 x18 CO Pol Month Poster

If you like to plant seeds, bbbseed, a company based out of Boulder, has some wonderful seed mixes that produce beautiful flowers all three seasons too!

Come join the movement and help our pollinators!!

#pollinateCO #thebeeswaggle

Andrena Mining Bees

Andrena are early risers, and this year I was very luck you witness the emergence of a very large aggregation of these solitary bees in Highlands Ranch!

Andrena bees are solitary bees who happily live next door to many other solitary nesters. Some bees in this family will begin their season early spring, as is the case with these mining bees. Others will begin late summer, hoping to visit many of the sunflower family plants.

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Andrena can be social or solitary, depending on the weather conditions.  They can live in large aggregations, which is like a large housing development for humans.  This seemed to be the case with this group, however they can also live in a social structure with one queen laying all the eggs, and workers collecting all the necessary resources.

To identify the nesting hole of Andrena bees, you must be very observant of the smallest of details.  The following pictures show mounds of sandy soil, with and without holes.  This is evidence of some kind of ground burrowing bee.  The mounds without holes are either finished, and full of developing bees, or the mother bee has decided to close up shop and get some rest.  They will use dirt, plant debris, petals, or any kind of small covering to cover the holes.

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It can be alarming to stumble upon the activity of a large aggregation, however, there is no cause for concern.  These bees are too busy to concern themselves with humans or other animals, so long as there is no threat.  A perceived threat would be digging into their nesting site, or grabbing a bee out of pure harassment.  Wouldn’t you sting something if you felt threatened?  I sure would, and sometimes I wish I could sting to get the “point” across…he,he.

Andrena are of the few early rising bees, and that means the few flowering plants that are also early bloomers depend on these bees for their pollinating services.  So, consider yourself pretty darn lucky when you have been chosen to host these tiny ladies on your property.  Sit back and enjoy the very busy show.

Thank you for joining the movement!

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Look at all that pollen! She’s covered in yellow dust.

Let’s Make a Plan to BEE Good Hosts

In previous posts I have gone into great detail about the ways we can bee good hosts in our own yards.  You can review by clicking here.  There are lots and lots of great bits of information inside that link!

Here’s a quick list of to dos for a good host to pollinators:

  1. PLANT lots of flowers of a wide variety, and make sure they are organic.  I love seeds because if they grow, they will likely survive the rest of the season in my Colorado soil.
  2. DIRT won’t hurt. Leave a little bare soil for native bees to use for nesting sites.
  3. WATER is for everyone! Place a watering dish with marbles, rocks, or sticks for insects to land on and safely get a drink.

Cheers to another season buzzing with pollinators!  Thank you for joining the movement!

Jess