In my last blog in June I talked about the importance of planting a variety of bee friendly plants in different areas to help increase the overall health of not only honeybees but also for the many native bees that occur here in the valley also. This article will talk about some of the bee gardens that have been planted around the Treasure Valley this summer.
On September 3, the Northwest Coalition for Alternative Pesticides held a Beneficial Insects and Pollinators work shop at Peaceful Belly Farm near Eagle. Jessa Kay Cruz of the the Xerces Society attended from California to demonstrate to local gardeners and farmers the following items as we toured the farm.
• How to assess existing beneficial and pollinator habitat and identify areas to improve
• Year-around beneficial insect and pollinator habitat
• Examples of incorporating habitat as annual plantings in fields and permanent plantings in riparian areas and field borders
• Organic methods of site preparation for establishing beneficial insect habitat
• Funding opportunities through Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Jennifer Miller of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides posted the following links for additional information about pollinator and beneficial insect habitat. http://www.pesticide.org
Pollinator Habitat Assessment Form and Guide
Pollinator Conservation: Three Easy Steps to Help Bees and Butterflies
Farming for Pollinators Brochure
Farming for Pest Management Brochure
Plant and Seed Vendors for Idaho and Beyond
This NRCS Technical Note from the Aberdeen Plant Materials Center provides contact information for seed or plant vendors in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington, and Wyoming.
Conserving Bumble Bees
Bumble bees, key pollinators of crops and wildflowers across the country and essential for a healthy environment, are declining at an alarming rate. Bee biologists discovered that several previously common species are now absent from much of their former territory. Creating, protecting and restoring habitat is a very important way to conserve the populations of bees that remain. These guidelines provide the information that land managers need, along with a set of straightforward strategies to guide the creation and management of good quality bumble bee habitat.
Conservation Biological Control Resources
In collaboration with the University of California Berkeley, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and other partners, the Xerces Society is expanding efforts to demonstrate the effectiveness of conservation biological control through field research with academic partners, habitat restoration field trials, and outreach to farm communities and farm agency staff.
USDA Farm Service Agency
Microloan program http://www.fsa.usda.gov/Internet/FSA_File/microloans_eng_jan2013.pdf
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/id/programs/?cid=nrcs144p2_046760
USDA Risk Management Agency
Organic Crop Insurance http://www.rma.usda.gov/pubs/rme/organics.pdf
Photos from the field day
Another pollinator project was started this summer by Pioneer HI bred International, Nampa Idaho facility. This plant is responsible for the alfalfa seed production in this valley and has been involved for more that forty years. During that time Pioneer Hi-Bred had one of the largest custom pollinating programs using the alfalfa leaf cutting bee here in the U.S. I have been involved with Pioneer during those forty years as their bee consultant. At the Pioneer plant on Lake Shore drive, Pollinator Garden beds were started this summer to serve as educational plots for the general public to learn about the importance of bees to our area. Cooperators in the project included, the University of Idaho, NRCS, the College of Idaho and D and B supplies. The following photos were taken from the pollinator gardens this summer. These beds bill be expanded this next year. Christina Stucker, a C of I student intern spent the summer collecting bees and date for the insect Museum at the College of Idaho. She worked under the guidance of retired U of I Professor Dr. Craig Baird. Results of this summer’s work will be forth coming.
At Bitner Vineyards, I continued my plantings of ground covers and flowers for both beneficial insects and pollinators and I will be expanding these areas next year.
Across the nation more and more individuals and groups are getting involved in the effort to help maintain healthy bee populations. It is not just a country project but also something that can be done in cities.