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-   -   Where are the pollinators? (http://www.wildlifegardeners.org/forum/biodiversity/12857-where-pollinators.html)

linrose 07-10-2015 02:00 PM

Where are the pollinators?
 
I've been hearing on this forum and on the national media about the decline of pollinators in our environment. This goes beyond the honeybee colony collapse disorder into native bees as well as butterflies and other insects.

So without a scientific study I'd like to know how you all are finding the trend in the pollinator populations in your gardens and environs are faring this year compared to past years. Call it a citizen scientist study, you are the grassroots community that walk our gardens and nearby parks and natural areas and really notice these differences.

wildwatcher 07-10-2015 09:29 PM

I've found one honey bee this year in my yard, and it was sick and nearly drown, could be the extra rain but probably the extra poisons, the public insists on using.

But it is strange to live out of town like I do, and in the woods, I haven't seen any honey bees at all in the last 5 years. Never have I found a wild honey bee nest. Now carpenter bees, and bumble bees, and those little iridescent green bees, red wasps, and other wasps, and ants, they all do the work of pollination, I see those on a regular basis.

It could be that I just live too far out of town for the honey bee, hahaha, because when I'm in town, I see honey bees in the grassy, flowery places.

ww

dapjwy 07-10-2015 10:14 PM

INot sure that I'm out looking enough to make an accurate comparison. However, I must say that I've not noticed MA y bumblebees--well, early in the spring I saw some, but now I'm not seeing many at all. I did notice one recently. Perhaps I don't have much to offer them right now, but soon my meadowsweet will start blooming--we'll see what pollinators they attract.

The butterflyweed on the other hand, has a lot of (spangled? ) butterflies and another species or two. Sorry, my butterfly identification skills are lacking. Just last week, I was noticing there seemed to be more of each species I was seeing, and a couple of solitary individuals of a new-to-my-yard species. However, I'm still not noticing bumblebees or monarchs coming to the butterfly weed.

will-o-wisp 07-11-2015 03:58 AM

I am seeing very few butterfly for the past few years, even the number of cabbage whites are way down.
Less bees but they are still visible.
I do see what I think are honey bees along with the carpenter and bumble bees but I am not positive of that ID.
I do not see any evidence yet of leaf cutter bees, they love the rose leaves.

I have enough mass of 3 kinds of milkweed and I almost always have something blooming so you would think I'd see more butterflies by now.
My count is 1 blue azure, 2 black swallowtails, 3 or 4 red admirals, 1 Mourning cloak and a few skippers.
I have a lot more pussytoes plants but I am not seeing any leaves rolled up with eggs for the 1st time in in 4years.

In late summer early fall a few years back between the grasses (Switch and little bluestem) the Mt. mints and the asters I had skippers and bees on every flower nonstop for weeks . The plants literally vibrated with life.
Last year only a handful of skippers appeared but I still had bees and other small pollinators.
I'll monitor the area this fall to see what happens this year.

dapjwy 07-11-2015 08:34 AM

I agree that fall is my best time to witness my yard buzzing with life. It is hard to say exactly how much I would be seeing this time of the year...but I do notice that I'm missing the presence of bumblebees on the A. tuberosa--normally there are more than butterflies on it...including a few honeybees which I'm not seein this year. I really need to look up some butterflies to ID them so I can give a more accurate count.

I know I've seen a few blue azures (assuming those are the tiny ones that flash blue when their wings are open). I've seen groups of 4 or 5 butterflies of two different species...normally I seem to see them singly or perhaps two interacting on occasion--seeing groups of four or more is what made me think that I'm finally seeing them becoming more established.

I'm also seeing a solitary medium sized dark one that moves so quickly that I can't see any details.

I would recognize the little skippers...none have actually registered with me...not saying that they are not there. I'll have to try to take more notice next time I get out.

Perhaps we can have the "great American backyard butterfly count".

katjh 07-11-2015 08:41 AM

I will start paying closer attention but this is what I've noticed so far:

Plenty of bumblebees earlier in the season when the spring flowers were blooming. Fewer right now, but I don't have a lot flowering at the moment. The summer bloomers are just beginning to flower. I imagine I will see the bumbles when the Wild Senna blooms. They buzz-pollinate those flowers and it's mesmerizing to watch them. Joe Pye has just started blooming so I'll check that out daily and see who's hangin around.

Lots of smaller bees of all shapes and sizes on the Butterfly Weed and Purple Prairie Clover. I think I'm seeing honey bees in the patches of clover in my "lawn", but I'm no bee ID expert so I can't say for sure.

I must say that when I started my native plant journey in 2012-2013 (don't recall exactly when I planted my first order from PM), I was hoping for more butterflies than I am seeing. We do get butterflies, but not daily and not in any great numbers. Of course, I am still working and I'm not out there watching every day. I did begin to notice Spring Azures last year and again this year - I'm quite sure they weren't around my yard "BN" (before natives).

GREAT idea for a thread linrose!

dapjwy 07-11-2015 10:05 AM

You bring up lots of great points, katjh.

Quote:

Originally Posted by katjh (Post 152696)
I will start paying closer attention but this is what I've noticed so far:

Plenty of bumblebees earlier in the season when the spring flowers were blooming. Fewer right now, but I don't have a lot flowering at the moment. The summer bloomers are just beginning to flower. I imagine I will see the bumbles when the Wild Senna blooms. They buzz-pollinate those flowers and it's mesmerizing to watch them. Joe Pye has just started blooming so I'll check that out daily and see who's hangin around.

I saw more in the spring as well...and, you make me realize that my Joe Pye weed has buds too, so once that blooms (and my meadowsweet, and my devil's walking stick, and my...), I'll have a more accurate assessment of which pollinators are present or missing in action.


Quote:

Originally Posted by katjh (Post 152696)
Lots of smaller bees of all shapes and sizes on the Butterfly Weed and Purple Prairie Clover. I think I'm seeing honey bees in the patches of clover in my "lawn", but I'm no bee ID expert so I can't say for sure.

That is what has me concerned; I've noticed nothing except butterflies at my butterflyweed.
Quote:

Originally Posted by katjh (Post 152696)
I must say that when I started my native plant journey in 2012-2013 (don't recall exactly when I planted my first order from PM), I was hoping for more butterflies than I am seeing. We do get butterflies, but not daily and not in any great numbers. Of course, I am still working and I'm not out there watching every day. I did begin to notice Spring Azures last year and again this year - I'm quite sure they weren't around my yard "BN" (before natives).

I think I'm starting to see more this year, perhaps it takes a while for the population to increas3.

By the way, I love the "BN" time indicator! :)
Quote:

Originally Posted by katjh (Post 152696)
GREAT idea for a thread linrose!

Yup!

Thanks for.starting it, linrose.

linrose 07-11-2015 10:54 AM

I'm probably about a month or so ahead of most of you in bloom times, our summer bloomers have been going for a few weeks now. Monarda, liatris and summer phlox are all big attractors for both bees and butterflies not to mention hummingbirds. I just went out and from the deck counted 9 dark butterflies, either spicebush or black form tiger swallowtails and one yellow tiger swallowtail on the beebalm and phlox. Bumblebees love the monarda, I'll count at least a dozen on a patch of monarda at a time. It makes me love that plant and I have lots of it in all areas of the gardens. I'm always sad when they stop blooming but at that time the yellow composites take over with the asters not far behind.

I lost my Joe-Pye-Weed a couple of years ago probably because I had it in too dry a spot but just noticed it coming back where I originally planted it. It must be due to all the rains we've been having. When it bloomed it was always covered in tiger swallowtails.

I find the smaller bees and flies on the shrubs and trees when they flower in spring. When the penstemon blooms we start to see bumblebees along with the smaller bees. I planted lots of Penstemon digitalis and need even more! It self-sows pretty prolifically so that's good. The larger bees, except carpenter bees, usually don't show up until later. I do see honeybees occasionally, they really like the oakleaf hydrangeas, but the bumblebees dominate as summer pollinators.

In the fall the asters really shine. Cupplant is still blooming and the ironweed and goldenrod attract pollinators too.

dapjwy 07-11-2015 11:16 AM

Wow, linrose, you sound like you have a lot going for you and a lot of pollinators to enjoy what you've grown. Keep up the good work.

I want more Penstemon digitalis too. I do collect seed from them and have been spreading them, but it seems like a slow process--or maybe I'm just impatient or not doing it right!

I guess I have a lot of the same flowers you mention...just not in great numbers yet.

I have to keep telling myself the fall is when everything really shine for me. That's when I see the most pollinatos.

As for trees, I can't wait until my black gum trees start to bloom. I remember tons of tiny pollinators coming to the flowers where I grew up.

turttle 07-11-2015 02:38 PM

First, overall since I began planting my native plant garden I have seen a huge increase in all pollinators from before I started.

Second, the past two years, I have fewer butterflies than in the past, though this year is better than last year. The official butterfly count that BAMONA does in August agreed that butterflies were way down last year; the consensus was that it was because of the unusually cold and long winter with the late spring freezes killing overwintering and newly emerging butterflies/caterpillars. I am very pleased to see a major increase this week in my butterfly numbers in many species, so they appear to be rebounding, though I still am not finding any black swallowtail cats in my yard this year or last, which is very unusual.

I have seen no decline in the number or variety of bees. I have many more bumblebees (several species), eastern carpenter bees, mason bees, digger bees, salt bees, masked bees, and other small native bees than honeybees, but this has always been true. I see honeybees in the late fall and early spring, when I have the only plants that are flowering, but I am five miles away from the guy who keeps about two dozen hives and there are many closer places for them to find nectar. I have lots of different kinds of wasps, though it does seem like I have a smaller variety of them this year. I do think this year is about one to two weeks late in the emergence of plants and all kinds of animals compared to the first five years I had my garden, though comparable to last year, which I attribute to the freezing temps and snow/ice that lasted into early March both years.

I get almost no monarchs, which is discouraging, given how much milkweed I have growing now. I did get my first variegated fritillary today, so all of my maypops have achieved something!


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