With their marvelous interpretive-dance routines, complex social life, and delicious honey, honeybees are widely respected, but they’re anything but sweet to wild pollinators. In fact, a surfeit of honeybees is a big threat to our native bees and butterflies.
Posts Tagged ‘pollinators’
The old saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” has been a great comfort to me over the years, since I figure that means the road to heaven is paved with bad thoughts, which are all too easy to come by. Since ancient times, we’ve built chemins, highways, byways, boulevards, terraces, turnpikes, tow-paths, and bike paths. But given the astonishing pace at which our native pollinator populations are dwindling, it’s a critical time to blaze a new kind of road. A pathway, to be specific.
For over a month now, pollinators here in the mountains have been working their life keeping magic. Each of these winged creatures participating in the cycle of life of the flora that covers the forest floors and meadows. The first pollinators to appear as Spring rolls in, are the mason and carpenter bees who are able to withstand the cooler temperatures followed by bumble bees and then the smaller breeds of solitary, ground dwelling bees which includes polyester bees among many.
In Lepidoptera land, moths that have overwintered in the Adirondacks emerge from their cocoons as well as butterflies that are able to withstand the slowly warming temperatures have made their winged displays known. The eastern tiger swallowtail (pictured here) is one of the first butterflies to soar the fields and roadsides. They are not alone, the checkered and mustard whites, orange and clouded sulfurs and some skippers join them. Some of the migrating butterflies have began to arrive back to the mountains beginning the first week of May, so you may have observed white and red admirals, northern crescents and common blues and whites with monarchs to arrive here by the end of this month.
March 21st marked the first day of spring and here in the mountains the warm early spring temperatures have begun to prompt the native bees to wake from their hibernation. Like many creatures, most native bees store up food during the warm months in preparation for a cold long winter.
The first thing waking bees do is perform a cleansing flight, they expel any excrement that has accumulated during their winter’s rest.
The next thing they do is search for food. Its not hard to see that there are no trees and flowers in bloom as the snow begins to melt and once again bare ground is exposed.
So what do these amazing little creatures do to survive until blossoms appear? Unlike colony-building honeybees, solitary bees don’t stockpile honey for times when blossoms are scarce.
Editor’s note: The following content was provided by AdkAction
When crisp fall weather arrives, and the last flowers of the late-blooming perennials have gone, it’s easy to forget that being a pollinator steward is a year-round job. However, there is much that can be accomplished in the fall to ensure that your local pollinators will thrive in the spring and summer.
While migratory pollinators such as Monarch butterflies and the Rufous hummingbird travel great distances to escape northern winters, many insect pollinators such as moths, butterflies, and bees stay right here all winter long, in a variety of developmental stages that allow them to endure the cold.
Fall-blooming asters and goldenrods provide important habitat for pollinators. Many of these beautiful flowers thrive in sunny fields, roadsides, and woodland openings while a few prefer partial shade.
At home, simple changes to your lawn, garden, and landscaping can help increase and improve fall pollinator habitat.
In the garden, try planting native seed mixes or leaving a few goldenrod stems instead of weeding them out. In the yard, choose to be pesticide-free and consider leaving no-mow edges or patches in your lawn to grow over time.
One of the most amazing activities in a honeybee’s lifetime is rarely seen by humans and occurs by the workings of numerous architect-minded, honeycomb-building, wax-producing bees.
Building comb is a multi-skill effort, involving bees strung from comb to comb like a tapestry of lacework, hanging together leg to leg in sheets between the frames to build new comb in a process called “festooning.” While festooning, bees measure the open space, create blueprints for future comb, act as self-made scaffolding, promoting stretching of the abdomen which aids in wax production.
Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) begin their annual fall migration in mid-August. These butterflies are the great-great-grandchildren of the monarchs that migrated to Mexico last fall.
You can help monarchs by providing food (nectar) and keeping those areas protected:
- Turn a portion of your lawn into a wildflower meadow—plant milkweed or other native wildflowers.
- Delay mowing areas with milkweed until later in the fall.
- Avoid using herbicides—they kill all life-stages of monarchs (egg, caterpillar, cocoon, and adult).
- Report sightings of adults online. View a map of the sightings so far this year.
Don’t know when their migration peaks in your area? Check out this migration chart.
Photo by Sandy Van Vranken.
Honey is the only food made by an insect that is eaten both by humans and the insect itself. Bears, badgers and other animals also eat honey and have long been raiding the winter stores of their winged friends to harvest this tasty treat.
Honey is a very stable food that naturally resists molds, fungi and other bacteria, allowing it to last for years without refrigeration. It is well known that honey is made by a colony of honey bees living in a nest or in a hive if kept by a beekeeper.
A typical bee hive will house about 60,000 bees, most of them workers, industriously making honey and the honeycombs in which the honey is stored. That’s a lot of honey bees, working very hard to produce honey for the colony. It takes about 556 foraging bees to visit 2 million flowers, just to make a pound of honey!
Hummingbirds are some of the most vibrant and aerobatic creatures witnessed here in the Adirondacks. They are known as hummingbirds because of the humming sound created by their beating wings, which flap at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air at wing-flapping rates that vary from around 12 beats per second to an excess of 80 beats per second, the smaller the species the faster the wing flapping.
There are more than 300 species of hummingbirds found exclusively in the Americas from Alaska to Chile and are classified as the smallest bird species. With most of this species measuring 3–5 inches in length and weighing about the same as a penny or .09 oz. The runt of these species is the bee hummingbird that is approximately 2 inches long and weighs less than .07 oz.
Pollinators are in trouble.
Unfortunately, pollinators are in decline worldwide. Habitat loss, invasive species, parasites, and pesticides are largely to blame.
You can help save pollinators. Here are 10 ways you can directly help pollinators which protects and restore these critically important wildlife species.
Pollinators are animals and insects that carry pollen from one plant to another. Pollinators are responsible for much of our food and flowers and are responsible for the reproduction of 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat. In order to understand pollinators, we need to know a little bit about plants.
Just like animals, flowering plants need to mate. But how can an organism spread its genes without being able to meet up with others of its species and this is where pollinators come in. Pollinators are animals of all types that visit flowers and take away their pollen. Pollen is a sex cell of plants and is essential for reproduction. As pollinators move from flower to flower, they deposit the collected pollen, basically allowing the plants to mate.
Many flowers attract insects and animals with the promise of a sugary liquid called nectar. Their smell and bright petals advertise fresh nectar to passing insects and other flying pollinators like hummingbirds. In return for the gift of nectar, the flower deposits pollen on whatever comes to visit. Pollen is like the sperm of plants – and is the way that plants spread their genes and mate with other plants in the same species.
Pollinators come in all shapes and sizes and include species of insects, birds, and mammals.
The Adirondack Pollinator Project (APP) is once again celebrating National Pollinator Week, June 22-28, to highlight the critical importance of pollinators to biodiversity, food availability, and the economy. Pollinators help produce approximately 1/3 of the food we eat. In New York State alone, bees and other pollinators provide some $350 million in pollination services each year. This year’s programs are being delivered digitally.
The Adirondack Pollinator Project is a project of AdkAction in partnership with The Wild Center, The Lake Placid Land Conservancy, and Paul Smith’s College, with the mission of inspiring individual and collective action to help pollinators thrive. Creative digital program offerings throughout National Pollinator Week will allow people of all ages to learn about pollinators, gardening with native plants, and more.
Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems many animals rely on for food and shelter.
Over half of the diets of fats and oils come from crops pollinated worldwide by pollinators alone and facilitate the reproduction in 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants. Pollinators are needed in the production of over 130 different human food crops and are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat and beverages we drink.
A world without pollinators would be devastating. As nature lovers and educators, the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge (in Wilmington) and SkyLyfeADK are collaborating to implement an extensive pollinator project named Operation Pollinator Rescue.
When it comes to pollination it seems that honey bees are give the spotlight, but they’re not the only bees that shine for their ability to pollinate. Bumblebees have their own unique abilities that honey bees don’t.
Bumblebees are long tongued bees with tongues 15mm – 20mm long and are capable of pollinating tuberous flowers with deep corollas such as cucumber, tomatoes, melons, squash, thistle, honeysuckle among many others.
In contrast, honey bees are short tongued bees with tongues 5mm – 8mm long and pollinate flowers that are flatter and shallow such as, coneflowers, daisies, apples, cherries, raspberries, cranberries along with a variety of others.
Wait, before you go,
sign up for news updates from the Adirondack Almanack!