Announcements from the March Chapter Meeting

Highlights from the March Chapter Meeting

The Announcements

View the full set of March announcements by clicking here. Please note the new Affinity Group opportunities and changes to volunteer service. With so much going on, only announcement highlights were presented at the chapter meeting. More opportunities and contacts, websites, and other details are available in the announcements.

A COVID-19 reminder: Except for limited individual and household volunteer service, NTMN face to face activities are suspended until further notice.  Advanced training continues in virtual formats only. The board is working on new guidelines for training and service in groups up to 10, to be posted later this month. Details here.

Highlights from the March 2021 Chapter Meeting

Native Bees in Your Landscape–Nature’s Little Preppers

Many thanks to Carol Clark for such an engaging presentation on native bees, continuing this year’s theme on survivors. A dedicated, long-term member of the Native Plant Society of Texas and Texas Master Naturalist, Carol draws on extensive experience educating and inspiring us about these fascinating creatures.

While imported honey bees are much better known, our native bees are essential to healthy ecosystems. As pollinators they are far more efficient than non-natives. Many are highly specialized for this task, providing, for example, buzz pollination (sonication) that honey bees cannot. Listening to Carol, one can hardly help delighting in the bee-beauty and variety (there were plenty of bee puns!).

Carol wove a compelling story to value and protect native bees, illustrated with 20-plus species. Her slides and narrative brought many threads together: their amazing adaptations and symbiotic relationships, the intricacy of their nests, their critical roles in nature, their inherent beauty, the ecological value they provide, and the threats native bees face, especially habitat loss and pesticide use.

She provided a number of bee-watching tips. To help with identifying, note what the bee is nectaring on and look for details of tufts, brushes, and hooks on legs, in addition to overall anatomy. And watch for bee-haviors. For example, a circular cut in a petal or two of a flower can mean that a leaf-cutter bee will be back soon to finish gathering nest material.

Key takeaways: After hearing so much about the unique roles native bees play and the many threats they face, it’s hard not to want to do something to help. Carol shared a number of ways to get involved.

The simple steps of avoiding one’s own use of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, and advocating limited use address a major factor in declining populations. She reminded us that less is best and that limiting application to label provisions is the law.

Protecting native habitat and providing additional habitat help address the other key challenge native bees face. Not cutting (at least not disposing of) old stems that bees nest in allows them to complete their life cycle. Top recommended plantings include sumacs, Mexican plum, and members of the aster family, especially sunflowers, goldenrods, and coneflowers.

Carol shared many examples of bee boxes and nesting tubes and how to maintain them. These not only give bees more protected areas to reproduce; the structures can serve as highly effective educational tools. Because most native bees have limited capacity to sting, these can be placed in very public locations.

Further information – Carol’s World nature blog https://carolsworld.net/

Texas Native Bee Co-op https://www.facebook.com/texasnativebees

Collin County Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas
https://npsot.org/wp/collincounty/

Carol’s handouts: https://public.ntmn.org/archives/426297

Links and documents from this presentation are also available at NTMN Facebook.

Recording: As soon as it is available, video of this presentation will be posted here.

Thanks to our guests and members for participating in this month’s meeting, all 228 of you. So many people track Carol’s fine work. We hope all feel welcome at NTMN.

Take care,
Scott Hudson
President
North Texas Master Naturalist

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