Did you know some plants don’t offer nectar? Did you know some plants don’t readily give up their pollen? Well, I was surprised to learn this. These plants depend upon buzz pollination to complete their reproduction. [Read more…]
Just a reminder!
If you live in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin, next Saturday May 19th is the day to pick up your order from the Wild Ones Fox Valley Area Chapter’s Spring Native Plant Sale. All the pre-orders will have been sorted, and will be ready for pick-up. But there will be plenty of additional native prairie and shade plants available for you to add to your order or to just simply pick out. This plant sale is a good opportunity to purchase native plants at a lucrative price to add to your landscape, while at the same time “talking to the choir” about native plants, pollinators and the environment in general.
Plants featured are high quality nursery-propagated native forbs, grasses, ferns and vines in 4-inch pots, 1- to 2-year growth. Wild Ones continues in its efforts to save America’s favorite butterfly, along with other pollinators, through the Wild for Monarchs campaign. Through our spring native plant sale, we encourage everyone to buy and plant more milkweed (host plant for monarchs) and more nectar plants (food sources for pollinators). WOFVA volunteers will be on-site to help you plan butterfly and pollinator gardens with native plants, or to integrate these plants into your existing gardens.
The week prior to the plant sale pick-up date, volunteers get together at the WILD Center to stage the pick-up area, unload the truck and sort plants. If this is something with which you’d like to help, contact Donna VanBuecken, Plant Sale Coordinator to volunteer your time.
According to an April 27, 2018 article in Buglife, the partial ban on using neonictinoids (neonics) on flowering crops which was endorsed by the European Union (EU) in 2013 has now been expanded to ban all outdoor uses.
According to a December report in 2017, Buglife indicated that half of the rivers and lakes monitored in England as chronically polluted with neonics primarily caused by agricultural and residential use, followed by pet protection treatments against fleas and pesticide use in greenhouses. Both pet treatment and greenhouse use of neonics are being allowed for now.
The hope is that EU Member States will adopt a new pesticide approval process in order to control the introduction of new insecticides suspected of harming bees and other pollinators. However, not all EU Member States voted in favor of the ban, so it’s likely the struggle will go on. And especially so since the USA and other countries appear to be slow in reviewing their pesticide regulation processes.
But there is hope the rest of the world will strive to achieve the EU’s levels of concern for the environment and for our pollinators, and consequently, about one-third of our food source. Let’s hope we’re reaching a turning point.
Thanks to Brendan Carton for making me aware of this happening in the EU through the Pollinators and Native Plants Discussion Group.
Bees need two kinds of food. One we’ve already read about — pollen. The other is honey made from the nectar they gather from their visits to flowers. Nectar is the sugary juice that flowers offer to bees in return for the successful transportation of the pollen the flowers need to fulfill their reproductive process.
How do honeybees make honey?
As the worker honeybee sucks the nectar from the flower, she stores it in her nectar sac (a second stomach) ready to be transferred to the honey-making worker bees in the hive. If hungry, she opens a valve in the nectar sac and a portion of the nectar passes through to her stomach to be converted to energy.
When her nectar sac is full, the worker bee returns to the hive where she regurgitates the nectar to give to the indoor worker bees. They mix it with bee enzyme and pass it mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee until the moisture content is reduced. Once the nectar is placed in a wax cell, it may be fanned by the bees to thicken it even more or sometimes it is left to evaporate more on its own. (The temperature inside the hive is typically 32.5°C .) The honey will contain traces of pollen too. Reference my earlier post on the Pollen Sac. This is the same honey collected by bee keepers to be processed for human consumption.
Once the honey is placed in the wax storage cells, they are also capped with beeswax to await the arrival of newborn baby bees. The wax is exuded from glands which sit between several of the honeybees abdominal segments (she has four). Later, pollen is mixed with nectar to make “bee bread” to feed to the larvae.
Does the bumblebee make honey?
Honeybees make honey from nectar to store as food for overwintering and for their offspring. Bumblebees use nectar for their young as well, but in a much simpler form. Only the queen bumblebees have a winter life cycle.
During the summer while the worker bumblebees are busy gathering nectar and pollen for the next brood of babies, the queen bumblebee feeds and builds up her fat reserves. She, like the honeybee queen, must have nectar to maintain her energy and pollen to provide protein to help with her reproduction functions. Impregnated by some unlucky male honeybees during the previous year’s late summer, she will hibernate over winter. When she awakens in the spring, she will feed from the early blooming flowers and then establish a new nest to begin developing her colony. She will create a nectar pot from which she will feed while she incubates her new brood of female babies.
Like the queen honeybee, the queen bumblebee will rear several broods of baby bees. The bumblebee babies will feed from nectar pots and bee bread created by the growing numbers of worker bees. The nectar when mixed with the worker bee enzyme becomes a type of honey, but it is definitely not the same as the honey created by the honeybee and the one we eat. Toward the end of the summer, the new broods will contain queen and male baby bees and new bumblebee life cycles begin again.
Note: Except for the honeybees and bumblebees, most bees gather only pollen or nectar. However, all bees emerging from their winter quarters, whether honeybees or bumblebees or others, need spring blooming flowers to gather nectar and pollen to maintain their busy life cycles.
For more information on honeybees to PerfectBee.
For more information on bumblebees go to Penn State