The Plants the Help Monarchs Also Help Honey Bees

CATCH THE BUZZ  By Candace Fallon   December 15, 2016

Candace Fallon
Senior Conservation Biologist
Endangered Species Program

Monarchs are in decline across North America. With milkweed loss in the east identified as a major contributing factor to this decline, the national call to action has understandably focused primarily on planting milkweeds, which are the required host plants for monarch caterpillars, and a favorite for honey bees, too. Yet while restoring the millions of milkweed plants that have been lost is certainly an important strategy, monarchs need more than milkweed to support them throughout the year. Adult monarchs need nectar to fuel them during spring migration and breeding and to build up stores of fat which sustain them during fall migration and winter.

There are many sources of information about which species of native milkweeds are best for your region, but information on which nectar plants are best for monarchs has not been available for large areas of the U.S. Working with the Monarch Joint Venture and the National Wildlife Federation, the Xerces Society has created a series of nectar plant lists for the continental U.S. based on a database of nearly 24,000 monarch nectaring observations. Each of the 15 regional guides highlights species that are commercially available, are native to and widely found in the region, and are known to be hardy or relatively easy to grow in a garden setting.

Read more about this project at  or find a nectar plant guide for your region here

These plant lists are works-in-progress and benefit from your help. You can submit additional monarch nectaring observations via our online survey. We are grateful to the many different researchers and monarch enthusiasts across the country who have already contributed to our database – thank you! 

To Save Monarchs We Need More Than Just Milkweed

Xerces Society  By Candace Fallon   December 7, 2016

Candace Fallon
Senior Conservation Biologist
Endangered Species Program

Tall blazing star (Liatris aspera) was the plant with the most records of nectaring 
monarchs of any plant in the database. (Photo: Joshua Mayer/Flickr) 

The message is out: Monarchs are in decline across North America. The loss of milkweed plants due to extensive herbicide use and changes in farming practices, such as the widespread adoption of herbicide-resistant crops, has been identified as a major contributing factor of monarch’s decline in the eastern U.S. Disease, climate change, widespread insecticide use, and loss or degradation of nectar-rich habitat may also be contributing to declines. A memorandum issued by President Obama and subsequent U.S. national strategy to protect monarchs and other pollinators, in addition to a recent petition to list monarchs under the Endangered Species Act, has highlighted their plight and led to a surge of interest in protecting these amazing animals and their phenomenal fall migration.

The national call to action has focused primarily on planting milkweeds, which are the required host plants for monarch caterpillars, a simple and effective way to support monarch conservation. However, it is important to remember that milkweed may not be appropriate in every landscape. For example, we do not recommend planting milkweed in areas such as coastal California, where it did not historically occur.

While restoring the millions of milkweed plants that have been lost is certainly an important strategy, monarchs need more than milkweed to support them throughout the year. Adult monarchs need nectar to fuel them during spring migration and breeding and to build up stores of fat which sustain them during fall migration and winter. Too few nectar plants in the landscape may reduce the number of monarchs that successfully arrive at overwintering sites in the fall.

There are many sources of information about which species of native milkweeds are best for your region (including from the Xerces Society), but information on which nectar plants are best for monarchs has not been available for large areas of the U.S. To address this need, the Xerces Society has created a series of nectar plant lists based on a database of monarch nectaring observations compiled from a wide variety of sources, including published and technical reports, research datasets, and personal communications with monarch researchers, lepidopterists, botanists, and other experts. This database now houses nearly 24,000 reported monarch nectaring observations on 358 native plant species.

Working with the Monarch Joint Venture and the National Wildlife Federation, the Xerces Society used this database to develop monarch nectar plant guides for all regions of the continental U.S.  Each of the 15 guides highlights species that are commercially available, are native to and widely found in the region, and are known to be hardy or relatively easy to grow in a garden setting—although, as with any plant choice, we encourage you to use additional references when making final species determinations for your location. 


 Second place in the “Nectar Plant Top 10” went to bearded beggarticks (Bidens aristosa),
which is native in eastern and central North America. It blooms in late summer,
just in time for the monarchs fall migration. (Photo: Dennis Burnette) 

Whenever possible, we included species that were reported by multiple sources or were noted to be exceptional monarch magnets. Each list is also tailored to include only species that bloom during the times of year that monarchs are expected to be in each region. Only native species were included. (These plant lists were compiled using the best available data, but we expect to update them as new information is available. You can help us improve them by submitting your own monarch nectaring observations via our online survey.)

These guides are geared toward gardeners and landscape designers but will also be useful for land managers who are undertaking large-scale monarch restoration projects. And importantly, the plants on these lists will attract not only monarchs but also many other pollinators, from butterflies and moths to bees and hummingbirds.


Nectar Plant Top 10: The ten flowers in this table are those with the greatest number of recorded observations of nectaring monarchs—but be sure to check the nectar plant list for your region to find out which plants are the best for where you live!

Don't Kill The Caterpillar!

Pollinator Partnership: "Our second sighting of a future monarch butterfly! If you plant it, they will come. Thanks for supporting our monarch habitat research. Find out what you can do:

Don't Kill the Caterpillar! That striped caterpillar chomping on your milkweed will soon be a beautiful Monarch butterfly. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.

Seeing Eye-to-Eye on a Sedum

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey   October 23, 2014

If you've ever watched a Gray Hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus) nectaring a sedum, and then watched a honey bee (Apis mellifera) land on the same flower, it's a study in sharing.

"I was here first," says the Gray Hairstreak, sipping nectar.

"I was here second," says the honey bee.

So they wind up sharing, the butterfly and the honey bee. It's autumn and there's not much nectar anywhere.

"Stay back," says the butterfly.

"No," says the honey bee. "My colony needs the nectar."

So they crawl slowly on the blossom, meeting head to head, as if to prove that yes, "We can all get along."

The Gray Hairstreak is not so sure. The honey bee abruptly moves closer, and the startled butterfly lifts off to find another blossom.

The butterfly will be first again on a nearby sedum.

Read and view more images

The Life History of Monarch Butterflies

Nebraska Pheasants Forever   With Peter Berthelsen October 5, 2014 

This habitat tip discusses the importance of floral and nectaring resources to monarchs during the fall as they make their long migration to overwinter in Mexico, while also showing you the incredible life history of the monarch butterfly. The Life History of Monarch Butterflies is a beautiful short video with amazing photography of the Monarch Butterfly.  

Pete Berthelsen, Pheasants Forever Director of Habitat Programs, will be speaking at the CSBA Annual Convention, November 18-20, at the Hyatt Regency, Valencia, CA. 

For more information about monarch butterflies, visit or

Videos from Pheasants Forever:

Genetic Secrets of the Monarch Butterfly Revealed

Science Daily   Source: University of Chicago Medical Center   October 1, 2014

The monarch butterfly is one of the most iconic insects in the world, best known for its distinct orange and black wings and a spectacular annual mass migration across North America. However, little has been known about the genes that underlie these famous traits, even as the insect's storied migration appears to be in peril.

Sequencing the genomes of monarch butterflies from around the world, a team of scientists has now made surprising new insights into the monarch's genetics. They identified a single gene that appears central to migration -- a behavior generally regarded as complex -- and another that controls pigmentation. The researchers also shed light on the evolutionary origins of the monarch. They report their findings Oct. 1 in Nature.

"The results of this study shift our whole thinking about these butterflies...


The Xerces Society: After 90% Decline Federal Protection Sought for Monarch Butterfly

The Xerces Society    August 27, 2014

Genetically Engineered Crops Are Major Driver in Population Crash

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety as co-lead petitioners joined by the Xerces Society and renowned monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower filed a legal petition today to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for monarch butterflies, which have declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years. During the same period it is estimated that these once-common iconic orange and black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.

“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to...


Saving the Monarchs

Bug Squad - Happenings in the insect world      By Kathy Keatley Garvey    August 26, 2014

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation issued news today that is both disturbing and hopeful.

Disturbing in that the monarch butterfly population (Danaus plexippus) has declined by more than 90 percent in under 20 years.

Hopeful in that the monarch may receive federal protection through the Endangered Species Act.

The Xerces Society, the Center for Biological Diversity,  the...


Make Way for the Monarchs

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    June 3, 2014

It's good to see so many scientists and citizen scientists taking an avid interest in monarchs.

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), probably the most recognizable of all the butterflies, is known for its long migratory route from Canada to Mexico.

We spotted a beautiful monarch last Sunday afternoon in Fair Oaks, Calif. as it foraged for nectar from an appropriately named "butterfly bush"...


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Got Milk (Weed) for the Bees?

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    May 29, 2014

Folks are planting milkweed for the monarchs.

The milkweed (genus Asclepias) is the host plant (larval food) for the monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). No wonder the monarch is sometimes called "the milkweed butterfly."

The perennial plant is so named for its milky juice, consisting of a latex containing alkaloids and other complex compounds. Carl Linnaeus named the genus for the Greek god of healing, Asciepius.



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Bring Back the Monarchs!

CATCH THE BUZZ     By Kim Flottum    May 18, 2014

NRDC and Berkeley Food Institute Join to Host 2014 Growing Green Awards

The 2014 Growing Green Awards honored an outstanding individual in each of the following four categories: Sustainable Food and Farm Educator, Sustainable Livestock Producer, Pollinator Protector, and Regional Food Leader.

POLLINATOR PROTECTOR Winner for 2014 is Orley "Chip" Taylor
Monarch Watch / Lawrence, KS -- University of Kansas

Since insect ecologist Chip Taylor founded Monarch Watch in 1992, the organization has enlisted thousands of citizens to protect the monarch butterfly from extinction. The butterfly's numbers have sunk to ten percent of what they were in 1996, largely because milkweed—the only food source for monarch larvae and where adults lay their eggs—has been wiped out by herbicides and the relentless expansion of corn and soy acres in the Midwest. Based out of the University of Kansas, Monarch Watch has enlisted hundreds of thousands of volunteers each year to track the butterfly's population and advocate for its protection. Now Taylor is on a crusade to plant new milkweed habitat through Monarch Watch's "Bring the Monarch Back" initiative. Beginning in 2005, the program has sent milkweed plugs to over 160,000 schools, parks and home gardens, creating vital fuel sources for butterflies on their migration path from Canada to Mexico. For Taylor, the monarch's decline signals a larger crisis affecting all pollinators, upon whom much of our food system and the food sources of so many animals depend.

Read Chip's blog post: Bring Back the Monarchs!

From all of us at Bee Culture, and beekeepers everywhere, Congratulations Chip.


Huffington Post    By Chip Taylor - Pollinator Protector, Monarch Watch    May 16, 2014 

Ten years ago, a grain farmer in Northeast Nebraska wrote me a letter:

"I am concerned that the recent large use of Roundup Ready crops (which I use) and the subsequent widespread use of Roundup herbicide (which I also use), have led to the virtual elimination of milkweed in fields and crops," he said. But it wasn't the loss of milkweed that alarmed him most; it was the fact that with its disappearance, the monarch butterfly had also left his farm.

I'm an insect ecologist, and I've spent much of my career working with pollinators -- a keystone group of organisms that help maintain the fabric of our ecosystems. They provide the services that yield the berries, fruits, seeds, foliage and roots that are food for hundreds of thousands of species worldwide. Seventy percent of native vegetation requires pollination, as does 30 percent of our food supply. Reading that farmer's letter was a devastating signal that monarchs were at serious risk. More importantly, if we lose monarchs we lose a large number of other species that feed on pollinated plants.

I founded Monarch Watch...


Field Notes from White House: Alliance for Bee and Monarch Butterfly Recovery

Make Way for Monarchs   By Gary Nabhan  April 30, 2014

Field Notes from White House: Listening to an Unprecedented Alliance of Stakeholders for Bee and Monarch Butterfly Recovery

It was a dark and stormy day in Washington DC when sixty thought leaders from the farm community, industry, government and non-profits met next to the White House grounds to discuss pollinators; we could hardly see First Lady Michelle Obama’s new pollinator garden through all the pouring rain. Nevertheless, it was cause for celebration: a landmark meeting in the history of insect conservation, because the White House had brought together diverse stakeholders to deal with recent catastrophic declines in pollinators and plan their recovery on a continent-wide scale.

Dr. Michael Stebbins PhD, the meeting facilitator for White House Office of Science Policy, set the stage:

“There are many different stressors impacting various pollinators: herbicides, pesticides, habitat loss, climate change, and parasites like the varroa mite. Because of that, we need a hands-on approach to better leverage everyone’s investments to reverse the loss of pollinators. We are not at all interested in pointing fingers but we do want to know what roles chemical producers, among many others, are willing to play in helping solve this problem.”

The President’s Science Policy Advisor, Dr. John Holdren, added his welcome to the group of farmers, beekeepers, nurserymen, scientists, educators, corporate CEOs and faith-based community leaders Wednesday at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington DC:

“This is an issue that President Obama personally cares about: ways of protecting and nourishing natural capital, including ecosystem services. We are happy to see this intersection between people inside government and outside government trying to figure out how we can meet the challenges we face. Bees and butterflies have become like the canaries in the coal mine and that should be a wake up call for all of us.”

For nearly two hours, the group discussed the best means to avert further pollinator decline and prevent negative consequences for food security in North America. As noted by Ed Flanagan, a Maine wild blueberry farmer and president and chief executive of Jasper Wyman & Son

“As a farmer of berries, without pollinators, we are out of business. So we have begun taking a sort of Hippocratic Oath as farmers just as doctors do: “First, do no harm.”

In particular, Dr. Stebbins asked every person in the room to identify the following assets:

1) Activities, policies, or other initiatives for which federal agencies could enact to address pollinator health;
2) Potential public-private partnerships to be formed to address these issues; and
3) Significant commitments that organizations are making which the White House could help raise up to increase attention to these issues.

It became a hundred twenty minute session that this issue has emerged to be one of the most pressing and pervasive issues affecting our food supply and the health of the natural systems and ecological relationships that provide support services for agriculture.

Dr. Marla Spivak, a MacArthur Genius award-winning bee scientist at the University of Minnesota bluntly summed up many participants’ concerns: “Americans need good, clean diverse food, and so do pollinators.” As concluded by Laurie Davies Adams, Executive Director of the Pollinator Partnership:

“We need to come away from this meeting with a larger collective vision that incorporates the good work of hundreds of organizations and businesses.”

And so commitments began to be made for the voluntary involvement of farmers, beekeepers, nurserymen, seedsmen, garden clubs, wildlife habitat restorationists to design a pollinator recovery plan to include both the for-profit and non-profit sector at an unprecedented scale. These commitments will need to affect more than 100 million acres of American farmscapes that have been depleted of their pollinators over the last decade. While the causes and consequences of the pollinator declines remain different for each species of insect that has become imperiled, there was a ready consensus: habitat restoration of milkweeds for monarchs and other butterflies will also aid honeybees and imperiled bumblebees.

Christi Heinz of Project Apis put the entire concern into perspective: “Pollinator health is really a land use issue. Bees in particular are responsible for much of the food we eat. It should be a requirement to set space aside for them.”

To which Dave Nosman of Pheasants Forever added, “What farm or ranch couldn’t need better quality wildlife habitat?”

Related posts:

See more at:

Crocodile Tears Please Thirsty Butterflies and Bees

Science Daily    Source:  Ecological Society of America   By Lisa Lester  May 1, 2014

The butterfly (Dryas iulia) and the bee (Centris sp.) were most likely seeking scarce minerals and an extra boost of protein. On a beautiful December day in 2013, they found the precious nutrients in the tears of a spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus), relaxing on the banks of the Río Puerto Viejo in northeastern Costa Rica.

A boat carrying students, photographers, and aquatic ecologist Carlos de la Rosa was passing slowing and quietly by, and caught the moment on film. They watched [and photographed] in barely suppressed excitement for a quarter of an hour while the caiman basked placidly and the insects fluttered about the corners of its eyes.

De la Rosa reported the encounter in a peer-reviewed letter in the May 2014 issue of the Ecological Society of America's journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

"It was one of those natural history moments that you long to see up close," said de la Rosa, the director of the La Selva Biological Station for the Organization for Tropical Field Studies in San Pedro, Costa Rica. "But then the question becomes, what's going on in here? Why are these insects tapping into this resource?"

Though bountiful in the ocean, salt is often a rare and valuable resource on land, especially for vegetarians. It is not uncommon to see butterflies sipping mineral-laden water from mud puddles. When minerals are rare in the soil, animals sometimes gather salt and other rare minerals and proteins from sweat, tears, urine, and even blood.

De la Rosa had seen butterflies and moths in the Amazon feeding on the tears of turtles and a few caimans. Tear-drinking "lachryphagous" behavior in bees had only recently been observed by biologists. He remembered a 2012 report of a solitary bee sipping the tears of a yellow-spotted river turtle in Ecuador's Yasuní National Park. But how common is this behavior?

Back at the field station, he did a little research. He was surprised to find more evidence of tear-drinking than he expected in the collective online record of wilderness enthusiasts, casual tourists, professional photographers, and scientists. He now thinks the phenomenon may not be as rare as biologists had assumed -- just hard to witness.

"I did a Google search for images and I found out that it is quite common! A lot of people have recorded butterflies, and some bees, doing this," said de la Rosa.

A search of the scientific literature produced a detailed study of bees drinking human tears in Thailand, as well as the remembered October 2012 "Trails and Tribulations" story about the Ecuadorian bee and the river turtle by Olivier Dangles and Jérôme Casas in ESA's Frontiers. This experience reminds us that the world still has many surprises for ecologists, de la Rosa said. There so much still to be studied. De la Rosa is a specialist in the biology of non-biting midges, and a natural historian, with his eyes always open to new discoveries. Scientists at La Selva have discovered hundreds of species of aquatic insects that are still unnamed and undescribed.

"I have over 450 undescribed species from Costa Rica in my laboratory. If I did nothing for the rest of my life but collaborate with taxonomists and try to describe those, I would never get done," he said.

De la Rosa's job as director of La Selva Biological Station brings him an unusual number of serendipitous encounters with wildlife. He lives on site in the lowland rainforest, and he never needs an alarm clock. Howler monkeys wake him every morning.

"I learned I have to carry a camera with me 24/7, because you never know what you're going to find when you're walking to the office or the dining hall," he said. One day, he spied a new species of dragonfly on his way to breakfast. It had emerged from its larval form in the small pool of water caught in the cupped leaves of a bromeliad plant. He did a double-take. Dragonflies don't live on bromeliads. Or do they?

"Those are the kinds of things that, you know, you don't plan for them, you can't plan for them," de la Rosa said. There was only one known species of dragonfly in the world that lives in bromeliads. Now there will be two. "You just keep your eyes open and have curiosity, and when you see something that doesn't seem to fit, dig."

Read at:

Source:  Ecological Society of America

Carlos L de la Rosa. Additional observations of lachryphagous butterflies and beesFrontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2014; 12 (4): 210 DOI:10.1890/14.WB.006

When Monarch Butterflies Skip Meals

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    4/8/14

Got milkweed? 

If not, monarch butterflies are in a heap of trouble. 

An interesting study just published in journal PLOS One by researchers at the University of Jamestown, North Dakota, and the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, revealed that the larvae of monarch butterflies that skip meals (host plant, milkweed) will become adults with a smaller wing size, as much as 2 percent smaller. 

That's important because monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are migratory animals that travel long distances, and without milkweed, Asclepias spp., their migration will be adversely affected.

In their research, “Does Skipping a Meal Matter to a Butterfly's Appearance? Effects of Larval Food Stress on Wing Morphology and Color in Monarch Butterflies,” Haley Johnson of the University of Jamestown and her colleagues also found that monarch larvae deprived of food became adults with a different wing coloration: paler wings. 

This study nails home the point why we need to plant milkweed. As the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation says on its website: “The loss of milkweed plants in the monarch's spring and summer breeding areas across the United States is believed to be a significant factor contributing to the reduced number of monarchs recorded in overwintering sites in California and Mexico. Agricultural intensification, development of rural lands, and the use of mowing and herbicides to control roadside vegetation have all reduced the abundance of milkweeds in the landscape.” 

To address this seed shortage, the Xerces Society launched Project Milkweed to produce new sources of milkweed seed “where seed has not been reliably available: California, the Great Basin, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida."

Bottom line, the Xerces Society is:

  • raising public awareness about milkweeds' value to monarchs and native pollinators
  • promoting the inclusion of milkweeds in habitat restoration efforts
  • developing milkweed seed production guidelines, and
  • building new markets for milkweed seed.

The Xerces website also offers sources of native milkweed seed in your state. 

Meanwhile, the butterflies that overwintered in Mexico are on the move and in Texas. For more information on butterfly migration, see Monarch Butterfly, Journey North.

Read at...

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at:

Where Have All the Monarchs Gone?

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    1/29/14

As the world mourned the Jan. 27th death of 94-year-old folk singer Pete Seeger and hummed his signature song, "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", the question has now turned to: "Where Have All the Monarchs Gone?"

The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) is in trouble.

It has been in trouble for a long time. 

Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of...


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Monarch Butterfly Numbers Stunningly Low

Bee Culture's CATCH THE BUZZ   By Kim Flottum   1/29/14

Monarch Numbers Stunningly Low. Habitat loss, Climate change and Pesticides Contribute.

WWF-Mexico hosted a press conference this morning to release the status of the 2013-2014 monarch overwintering population measured in central Mexico. The news, while somewhat expected, was hard for monarch researchers, conservationists, and enthusiasts to hear. After reaching an all-time low during the winter of 2012-2013 (occupying 1.19 hectares), this year the area occupied by monarchs is a meager 0.67 hectares. Down from a high of 20.97 in 1996 – 97). Only 7 sanctuaries in Mexico had butterflies this December, with the largest, El Rosario, containing the majority of the population. What does this mean for the monarch migration...

Read more at: 

This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company. Find us at - Twitter.FacebookBee Culture’s Blog.

The Mighty Monarch

[Here's for all the beekeepers who took a break from the CSBA Conference last November to head over to the coast to visit the Monarch butterflies on their migration south.]

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey  10/5/12

We're accustomed to seeing a solitary monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) flitting around a garden.

But millions of them?

It was interesting to read the National Public Radio piece (Oct. 4) on Flight: A Few Million Little Creatures That Could.

The feature news story traces how a "young boy in Canada wondered where butterflies go in the winter--and spend 40 years trying to answer that question."

"In 1973, Dr. Fred Urquhart--all grown up by then--placed an ad in a newspaper in Mexico looking for volunteers to tag and observe butterflies and find their destination."

A woman and her husband answered the ad, and in the course of two years, found "hundreds of millions of butterflies."

Monarch sanctuaries!

If you access the NPR website, you'll see clips of a documentary made by Mike Slee. It's called  the "Flight of the Butterflies," which NPR describes as a "3-D IMAX film about the migration of the monarchs to sanctuaries."

"What you see, you can't imagine nature ever...


Hopefully, the milkweeds will attract many of those mighty monarchs next year and send lots of "tingles up the spine." 

[And the honey bees love milkweed too!] 

Visit the Kathy Keatley Garvey Bug Squad blog at:
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Pollinators Peel Back Layer on God's Creation

By Chris Bennett    (Farm Press Blog)  July 5, 2012

All of nature’s beauty is not equal. There is a world of absolute wonder and marvel seldom seen. Just a glance behind the curtain — and the complexity is numbing.

Over 80 percent of flowering plants need a pollinator to reproduce: bats, butterflies, birds, beetles, ants, bees, and many more. A pound of honey holds the essence of 2 million flowers, and a bee colony may log up to 55,000 miles in flight distance to gather nectar for that single pound.

(For more, see: Pound of honey a stunning bee creation)

Numbers? They tend to fade on the memory’s canvas. Stack up enough numbers or statistics — and the whole pile collapses on itself.

But pictures? Here is a stunning look into the hidden world of pollination; the video footage is phenomenal — The Beauty of Pollination:

 ("The Beauty of Pollination" from "Wings of Life" by filmmaker, Louie Schwartzberg.)

Bees Have Been Pollinators for a Long Time (at least 100 million years)

We continue to celebrate National Pollination Week June 18-24, 2012

The following information is from Ethnobeeology:

Bees have been pollinators for a long time. This bee was preserved in amber at least 100 million years ago. It has specialized branched hairs useful for pollen collection, is thought to have nested in the ground, and is only ~3 millimeters long. Today there are over 20,000 species of bees on the planet and here in the USA we are celebrating with a National Pollinator Week.

The Xerces Society: There are simple and inexpensive things you can do to increase the number of native bees living on your land. Any work you do on behalf of pollinators will support other beneficial insects and wildlife. On the Xerces Society website you will find information on providing additional sources of food and shelter for native bees, additional practices you can adopt to enhance native bee habitat, and how to obtain financial support from government programs to do this work. 

Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms 
By Mace Vaughan, Matthew Shepherd, Claire Kremen and Scott Hoffman Black (2007) This booklet outlines ways to protect and enhance habitat for native crop pollinators in the farm landscape. It includes advice on simple changes that can be made in farm management for the benefit of native bees, as well as information on how to enhance or provide important habitat features, such as nest sites and forage. Also included are case studies and links to plant lists across the country.

Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, The Xerces Society's most recent book (2011), is available to purchase from the Xerces SocietyAttracting Native Pollinators is coauthored by four Xerces Society staff members Eric Mader, Matthew Shepherd, Mace Vaughan, and Scott Black in collaboration with Gretchen LeBuhn, a San Francisco State University botanist and director of the Great Sunflower Project.

Help today's bees survive. Prevent the bees from becoming a subject of only paleontological study. Thank you! 

Thank you to Ethnobeeology for providing this information.

Of Honeybees and World Food Supply

By: Georginna Pfost (Christian Science Monitor-A Christian Science Perspective) June 19, 2012

Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths, as well as bats and birds, are a critical part of our planet’s ecosystem – the interconnected structure of life. In fact, one-third of humans’ food comes from insect-pollinated plants. In the process of collecting pollen and nectar to sustain themselves, pollinators help plants reproduce by spreading their pollen. And, in turn, the plants’ fruits and seeds provide food for other animals and people.

Consequently, many people (particularly backyard beekeepers like me) are celebrating the sixth annualPollinator Week (June 18-24) by doing such things as planting more varieties of flowers, buying more organically grown food, and eliminating the use of pesticides in our gardens. These actions help feed pollinators and prevent harm to them. But given recent news of spring honeybee die-offs in the Midwestern United States (apparently related to the sowing of pesticide-coated corn), I’m also taking time to specifically pray for these small creatures. 


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Diggin' It

Pollination power in the garden