Tag Archives: pollination

Hummingbirds and Bees as Pollinators and the Threat of Colony Collapse Disorder

At last week’s Nature Nights at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, I was delighted to meet Ms. Becky Ruppel, who has done graduate work in biology and is a volunteer at the Wildflower Center.

She also studied the Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris), an invasive species from the Mediterranean that threatens the native diversity and rangeland in Colorado.

Hummingbirds see red

Ms. Ruppel talked with me about how important pollinators are to our ecosystem to help plants reproduce. Pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.

Hummingbirds can see red, and that’s why they are attracted to plants with red flowers, such as Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii).

When hummingbirds go to feed on nectar, the pollen from the male part of the flower (the anther) collects on their bills. When they fly over to feed with another flower, they pass the pollen to the female part of the flower (the pistil) as part of the pollination process to help the flower form a seed.

Colony collapse disorder (CCD)

We also talked about colony collapse disorder. A few years ago, I saw a PBS Nature program, Silence of the Bees, about this tragedy affecting our honey bees who are pollinators and that live in colonies.

Beginning in 2006, for some unknown reason, honey bees from entire hives began to disappear. They just get sick and fly off to die. Since bees are a major pollinator, this puts many of our plants, especially our food crops, at risk.

Ms. Ruppel mentioned some of the factors scientists think might be causing it, such as pesticides, diseases, or mites, but she said that they haven’t been able to pinpoint one cause and be able to treat it yet. CCD may be due to many factors.

If honey bees are in decline, she said that our native solitary bees may be able to take their place as pollinators, such as mason bees. Landowners could leave areas of their property in a natural state and place ground features such as pieces of wood to help encourage the mason bees to make their homes there.

I hope they are able to help our honeybees soon!

Nature Nights: Power of Plants coming this week

Don’t forget that I’m bringing my Invasive Hunter Academy to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center as part of Nature Nights on Thursday, July 5, at 6:00 p.m.  Bring your entire family to this free event and learn more about the Power of Plants!

Your friend,

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Filed under Bees, Colony Collapse Disorder, Hummingbirds, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Mason Bees, Ms. Becky Ruppel, Nature Nights, Pollination, Power of Plants, Wildflower center, Yellow Toadflax

Rise of the Butterflies at Nature Nights

Nature nights starts this Thursday, June 21, at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center from 6 to 9 p.m. The event is free and is fun for the entire family. Get to know butterflies at this Thursday’s event.

As part of the evening activities, you can:

  • Watch the release of live butterflies in the courtyard by the Austin Butterfly Forum
  • Fold beautiful origami butterflies with artist Joan Son
  • Sing about the butterfly life cycle and pollination with zoologist
    Lucas Miller
  • Create a butterfly puppet with the Teenage ecowarriors
  • Walk the gardens and look for butterflies, moths, and other pollinators with nature experts

Invasive Hunter Academy and the Power of Plants

In two weeks, I’m bringing my Invasive Hunter Academy to nature nights. The July 5th event focuses on the power of plants.

As part of the academy, I look forward to teaching you about invasive species and graduating you as an Invasive Hunter.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Spot invasive species
  • Take down invasives with action moves
  • Create a fun action scene with you battling an invasive plant
    (You can take your diorama home with you!)

I’ll also have Plant Hero pins, pledges, and other fun stuff too!

I look forward to seeing you at Nature Nights!

Your friend,

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Filed under Butterflies, Butterflies, Invasive Hunter Academy, Invasive Species, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Moths, Nature Nights, Plant Heroes, Pollination, Power of Plants, Wildflower center