The Oregon Department of Agriculture has launched the Oregon Bee Project to help improve and ensure the health of 500-plus native species of bees that pollinate many of our crops. This program will include field research, public outreach and education, and the creation of an Oregon Bee Farm Certification to reward farmers who adopt bee-friendly practices.
They are looking for six flagship farms that already have suitable pollinator habitat. Part of the evaluation process is setting out traps to get an idea of what native bees are present on these farms. And to that end, Sarah Kincaid, entomologist with the ODA paid our farm a visit and put out three blue vane traps. These traps were developed for trapping beetles but Oregon State University researcher Dr. Sujaya Rao soon noticed that they were effective Continue reading “Oregon Bee Project Looks for Native Pollinators”
The urban beekeeping fad is still going strong in the United States with city and rural folks jumping in on this exciting agricultural hobby. For some it’s the lure of fresh honey; pure in form with no water added. For others it is part of the larger gardening craze called pollinator gardens. And I suspect for most people, it’s a little of both.
On the commercial side, honey bee pollination is critical to the agriculture system that has emerged here in the United States. Crops such as blueberries and cherries, are 90-percent dependent on honey bees and almond growers rely entirely on the honey bee for pollinating their trees. It is estimated that more than a million colonies are needed each year in California just to pollinate the state’s almond crop. Some argue that if it weren’t for the introduction of the honey bee, we would not be the agricultural powerhouse we are.
But this success story is not without a down side. Continue reading “Native Pollinators Pushed Out By Honey Bees”
I have to admit I did not know what guerilla gardening was until yesterday. According to Wikipedia, “Guerrilla gardening is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to utilize, such as an abandoned site, an area that is not being cared for, or private property. It encompasses a diverse range of people and motivations, ranging from gardeners who spill over their legal boundaries to gardeners with political influences who seek to provoke change by using guerrilla gardening as a form of protest or direct action. The land that is guerrilla gardened is usually abandoned or perceived to be neglected by its legal owner. That land is used by guerrilla gardeners to raise plants, frequently focusing on food crops or plants intended for aesthetic purposes.”
Yesterday I met a woman that has a different purpose – she guerilla gardens for pollinators. Our pollinators have suffered from loss of habitat, pesticide use, invasive plants and animals, and diseases. Many of our pollinators are federally listed as threatened or endangered species. And we have lost over Continue reading “Guerilla Gardening May Save Our Pollinators”
I have tested berried shrubs and trees for years trying to find the best ones to feed birds. If you read the labels at your local nursery you will find that every plant that has a berry also has a tag that says “attracts birds”. But this is just marketing copy and very few have any value to birds. However one crabapple performs beautifully in the Willamette Valley. Continue reading “Best Crabapple Tree for Feeding Birds”
Blueberries have to be my favorite fruit. Whether I am picking them for a fresh blueberry pie or just grazing, you cannot beat them for flavor and ease of picking. However with our cool Oregon springs, it is sometimes difficult to get a good fruit set on the early blooming varieties. Many pollinators such as honey bees need warmer temperatures to be fully active. However, bumblebees are active at much cooler temperatures and planting heather with your blueberries will attract these hard workers in droves.
There are many insects that pollinate blueberries including honey bees, solitary bees and bumblebees. But as mentioned earlier, the bumblebees work at much lower temperatures. Continue reading “Plant Heathers with Blueberries for Increased Fruit”