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How Important are Pollinators
April 16, 2012

Half way through the month of April already.

Where does the time go?

Again, prayers for the Tornado hit areas.

Several frosty nights this past week and some rain over the weekend.

We need the rain, I'm not going to complain.

It gave me some time to work on the Honey Do list (A warm March had me outside much of the time).

A bit under the weather the past few
days make tasks more challenging.

The sore throat, every joint aches and a bit light headed at times (no comments).

Other than that, we are doing well.

For the next several nights, we have a special treat.

About an hour after sunset.

It isn't often we see four planets in the same night sky.

You can almost draw a straight line and hit all four.

Low in the northwest is Jupiter, you may recall how it was a dominant object in
the winter skies and not long ago, was very
close to Venus.

Venus still dominates the night sky, but not as bright as it was earlier in the year.

Because it is an inferior (interior) planet, and its location, there is less surface to reflect sunlight.

Remember, we see Venus as a crescent, unless it is on the dar side of the sun.

It still sits high in the western sky.

(Enjoy Orion off to the left of Venus.)

High in the night sky, is the orange/red planet Mars.

You really can't miss it.

Follow the line east-southeast and you will see two objects about one third up from the horizon.

The yellow, gold object on the left is 'Saturn' and the silver blue one is a 'Giant Star' called 'Spica'.

Saturn is roughly 746 million miles (1.2 billion Km) from earth.

Spica is roughly 276 light years away.

A number we may understand, but can't grasp the true distance.

A small telescope or a spotting scope will show off Saturn's famous rings and its largest moon Titan appears as a tiny dot of light.

Now, follow your imaginary line across the sky.

Pretty neat huh?

Because the planets move and are never the in the same location from year to year, you may understand why migrating birds can't and wont use them to navigate the night skies.

I thought I would share this treat with you.

The warmer than normal temperatures of March have brought pollinators and other insects out of hibernation and dormancy much early than normal.

I suppose this coincides with plant life and flowers.

By summer's end and into autumn, expect an influx of insects.

Not simply mosquitoes, but bees, wasps and so on.

Just what you want, more Yellow jackets and wasps.

It could happen.

I'm hoping fr a strong bee and butterfly season.

With growing season here and the important roll pollinators play, I thought it apropos to mention the important roll they play for all of man and most other wildlife.


Though National Pollinator Week isn't until June, April is still a good time to remind all of us, just how important pollinators are to all of us.

Not just you and me, but for the birds and other animals that rely on the work of pollinators.

Indeed, a full one third of our food is directly related to pollinators.

I have a new Section on Pollinators I hope you find informative.

If you have an interest in a certain species, I suggest you do more research, but you will get the general idea of what most pollinators are and what they do.

Most plants have a flower color, blooming period, and/or scent that will attract a particular type of pollinator to reap its food rewards of nectar and pollen.

Squash Bees quickly come to mind.

Pollinators and the flowers that attract them create a beautiful dance between native plants and their pollinators that are found in a variety of ecosystems across the United States.

Efforts to conserve or restore plant communities should pay special attention to the needs of the pollinators associated with those plants in order to promote long-term success.

One thing you can do........................

Ensure sufficient foraging habitat for pollinators, including plant species of high value.

Cultivate native plants that may serve as sources of nectar, pollen for adult pollinators, or larval host plants, and which have flower shapes that are accessible to the pollinators that you would like to attract.

Deep or complex flowers may be suited to specific species, such as lupines and tomatoes for Bumble Bees.

Open flowers like asters are easily accessible to a wide range of bees (Ground Bees) with short tongues or small size, as well as hoverflies, beetles and butterflies.

Try to ensure that there is continuous bloom through early spring through fall, and cluster plantings, if possible.

This can be done with native plants.


Reproduction considerations depend on the needs of the pollinating species for which the land is being managed.

For example, specific butterfly and moth species, appropriate larval host plants should be used.

For native bees, sufficient ground
nesting areas, snags (dead trees.

Or, bee blocks should be available for,

Orchard Mason Bees and Leaf Cutter Bees.

For hummingbirds and other birds, sufficient nesting habitat should be present, whereas bats will require sufficient roosting and maternity habitat.


Provide shelter in the form of windbreaks, specific plantings, and overwintering areas.

Shelter-belts could provide nesting sites for hummingbirds as well as bees, such as snags (dead trees), and additional nectar and pollen sources (maples, wild cherries, linden, etc.).

Such areas will also provide cover for butterflies in windy conditions and adverse weather.

Since foraging areas should be in
the sun early in the season, the position of nesting sites needs to be planned carefully in relation to trees or shelter-belts.

Certain species may have specialized shelter needs that need to be considered.

One example, exposure to sun at appropriate times of day ensures the success of bee nesting sites and a place for butterflies to absorb the sun's rays.

Another would be this, wood nesting species (Mason Bees and Leafcutters), the nesting blocks need sun on the holes in the morning and not in the afternoon.

Chemical Use:

Integrated pest management is a critical component of safe habitat for pollinators.

Pesticides should not be used, if possible, but some are more hazardous to pollinators, depending on active ingredient.

Chemical use considerations:

Is chemical use monitored?

Is it reduced or eliminated when possible?

Where is the chemical used?

It must not be near the habitat.

What is the active ingredient?

What is the method of application (spot treatment vs. broad application, etc.)?

What are the weather conditions when the chemical is applied?

What is the timing of application?

Some chemicals can be used for the benefit of pollinators, such as in fire ant control and restoration projects; this use should be considered only when appropriate.

Herbicides should only be used during the site preparation and establishment phase when there is no feasible alternative.

Herbicides should not be used during management if there is an alternative, and if used only for careful spot treatment.

Emphasis must be on a thoughtful, educated approach to chemical use, and to a reduction and ultimate elimination of its use.

Here are a few important things to consider to help you attract more pollinators:

Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall.

Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with "doubled" flowers.

Eliminate pesticides whenever possible.

Include larval host plants in your landscape.

Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees.

Spare that limb!

You can add to nectar resources by providing a hummingbird feeder.

Yes, if you want to help our native pollinators out, there are many things you can do to help insure, that they keep helping you.

Do have a look at the Pollinators Web Pages.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Never be afraid to try something new.
Remember that amateurs built the Ark.
Professionals built the Titanic.

Dave Barry Humor columnist

Fear isn't in God's vocabulary.

Indeed, he instructs us to not be afraid and to call on him.

"Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid".

John 14:27

"For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline".

2 Timothy 1:7

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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