Wisconsin Pollinator Newsletter-May 28, 2018

How to Help Bumblebees

Bumblebees are very important pollinators that are large, fuzzy insects with short, stubby wings. While other animals pollinate, bumblebees are particularly good at it. Their wings beat 130 times or more per second and the beating combined with their large bodies vibrates flowers until they release pollen, which is called buzz pollination. Buzz pollination helps plants produce more fruit.

Bumblebees are an excellent alternative to honey bees and are a supplemental source for pollination of many crops. There are several attributes of bumblebees that promote their use as pollinators. Some bumblebees have long tongues, Ttese long tongues give bumblebees an advantage over short-tongued bees like the honey bee when foraging on flowers with long tubes, such as red clover. Not surprisingly, the petals of bumblebee flowers often form elegant, elongated bells, funnels, or tubes, with the nectaries hidden deep inside. In some Springecies, the nectar is hidden at the end of a long, hollow floral structure called a Springur. In these ways, the plants make sure that the precious liquid gets only to the bumblebee, the animal most capable of accomplishing pollination. Read More

Help Homeless Mason Bees

Mason Bees (genus Osmia) are a type of native bee that’s quite common throughout most of the U.S. They are usually a little smaller than a honeybee, and typically metallic blue or blue-black in color. They get their name from their habit of nest-building, which is to seal off the cells where they lay their eggs, with a mortar-like application of mud.

Mason bees are very effective pollinators. Just two or three females can pollinate a mature apple tree! Mason bees will also work in cool or rainy weather when Honey Bees are more likely to take the day off.

Encourage Mason Bees in your garden by placing a Mason Bee House in your yard. See the KITS section on the RESOURCES page.

Those Darn Rabbits

Do the rabbits in your neighborhood think your garden is their personal salad bar? Well here are a few suggestions from folks that have experience doing battle with bunnies.<

• Fake owl
• Tin plates
• Fencing: Not for everyone, after all who wants to create a beautiful garden and then fence it off
• Repellents: Coyote urine, commercial rabbit repellents, cayenne pepper, dryer sheets, blood meal or bone meal

It appears that what ever you try works for awhile but then you need to change your approach. If there is little food around, practically nothing will stop them. My personal favorite is cayenne pepper as it has seemed to be the most effective in my garden. Good luck!

Green Lacewings: The Aphid Killer

Despite its beautiful, poetic name, the Green Lacewing is deadly to almost any soft-bodied insect pest and its eggs. In its adult stage, it lives up to its name, feeding only on nectar and pollen. In its larval stage it’s a voracious consumer of problem insects, known to devour over 200 aphids in a week. They also prey on a wide variety of other soft-bodied insects and mites, including insect eggs, thrips, mealybugs, immature whiteflies and small caterpillars. If it runs out of food, it will cannibalize other lacewing larvae. The sickle-shaped jaws (known as mandibles) of Green Lacewing larvae are used to capture and drain prey of their body fluids. The jaws contain tubes with which they can inject prey with paralyzing venom and then suck out the body fluids. And you can order them online!
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Scientists Create Microparticles That Could Save Honey Bees

Scientists at Washington State University have created a microscopic particle that could save honey bee colonies from collapse. It attracts pesticide residue in bees. Over time, pollen tinged with itsy bitsy amounts of pesticides accumulates in a bee’s body, reducing the lifespan of each bee in a colony.

Originally, the material is a powder that acts as a magnetic microsponge that absorbs ingested toxic residues. It can be incorporated into a sugar solution that’s fed to bee colonies. Each microparticle is the size and shape of a grain of pollen, making them easily digestible for bees.

Scientists created the powder in such way that beekeeper can easily handle it.

When consumed by the bees, the particles attract and absorb pesticide toxins. Then, they pass through the bees like any other food. Each particle only spends a few hours in their digestive system, which is enough to significantly reduce pesticide residues,
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