Today is “Thanksgiving Day.” A holiday set aside to give thanks for the harvest and for the blessings we have, starting with the Pilgrims in 1621. Even though the future of nature’s harvests seems a little uncertain these days because of the undoing of legislation our federal government is undertaking toward the safety of our environment and our protected lands, there is still much to be thankful for in our personal lives. For me, the plentiful summer harvest I was allowed to reap is something for which I am again very thankful. Another is the health and happiness of not only my husband and myself, but also our family and friends. May today find you able to be thankful for many things as well, and looking forward to better things in the future.
Archives for November 2019
If you’re not into Black Friday shopping, you might like to join fellow naturalists in the Queen Quest Blitz. Hosted by the Queen Quest Project, which is a joint effort between the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Boosters Team and University of Minnesota’s Bee Squad, citizen scientists will search for bumble bee queens on Black Friday. So gather your friends and family and get your team together so you can participate in this fun, yet worthwhile project. Sign up to join Queen Quest!
Protocol — once you’ve registered, get your step-by-step instructions on how to search for the queen bees.
INaturalist — a place to post your observations using an app
Queen Bee Habitat
Bumble bee queens are found in both rural and urban landscapes. According to a recent study by Neal M Williams etal entitled Fantastic bees and where to find them: locating the cryptic overwintering queens of a western bumble bee. “Our data suggest that overwintering and foraging habitats are likely distinct, and queens’ selection of overwintering sites may be shaped by environmental stressors of the year. In our study area, queens overwintered in litter beneath cypress trees, where no floral resources exist.”
Although they studied other areas, they found the most queens under cypress and pine trees. Queen hibernacula* were found short distances from the trunks and shaded from the direct sun. The researchers concluded that the needle litter beneath pines likely buffers against both hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. That, along with the overhead branches, likely moderates temperature and moisture fluctuations.
Another reason bumble bee queens may seek out nest sites under pines is the rodent population. I was surprised to learn that rodents prey on bumble bees. Rodents do not construct their burrows under pines, preferring grassy meadows and shrubby locations.
Although this study took place in California, because we here in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest have such an abundance and variety of pine trees, I suspect this is where we might find bumblebees overwintering as well.
*hibernacula are chambers or pockets within soil where animals overwinter.
Thank you Heather Holm for making me aware of this Black Friday event.
The Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin is currently seeking proposals for their Go Outside Fund grant program. This quarter’s deadline is December 31, 2019.
Connecting students and teachers with the outdoors
The Go Outside Fund provides funding that helps connect students and teachers with outdoor, nature-based learning experiences. Teachers or partner organizations may apply for funding to purchase field supplies, or pay for transportation, substitute teachers, or educator costs. Grants up to $500 are available.
- Projects that demonstrate a clear connection to classroom learning and standards.
- Projects that have a significant component of outdoor activity.
- Projects must directly engage children in outdoor, nature-based activities and learning.
- Applicant must be one of the following: a nonprofit organization with approved 501(c)(3) status; a federal, state, or local governmental unit, an Indian tribe; or an accredited school, college, or university.
- Project must directly engage children age pre-K – 12.
- Project activities must take place after the Go Outside Fund due date.
- Project expenses may not have incurred prior to submitting the application.
How to Apply:
- Determine if your project addresses our grant-making priorities and meets our eligibility requirements.
- Complete the application.
- Include proof of IRS tax-exempt status.
- Submit all materials to Caitlin Williamson by March 31st, June 30th, September 30th, or December 31st.
- Applicants will be notified six weeks following the submission deadline.
The following announcement is taken in part from the P2 newsletter dated 11/18/2019:
2020 “Pollinators, Plants, People, Planet” Poster Job Advertisement
Pollinator Partnership (P2) is seeking an artist to render the 2020 Pollinator Poster, this year focusing on “Pollinators, Plants, People, Planet.” To apply, send a one-page narrative concept idea with a draft sketch to Kelly Rourke at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, December 13, 2019.