Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fun times: Build bee nest boxes.

video



Doesn't take much. Some wood, some nails, a hammer, and rolled up newsprint tubes (no ink) that you can stuff into the empty space. Oh, and we used dried phragmites grass, because this invasive species is hollow inside and can be put to good use!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Winter-Sowing for Native Plants: Workshop

Master Gardener, Bev Wagar. This is how to sow.
Our friends and partners in crime at the Crown Point Garden Club are offering a fun workshop on winter-sowing for native plants. What is winter-sowing you ask? Winter sowing is a method of starting seeds outdoors in winter. This is generally done with seeds that require a period of cold stratification. The method takes advantage of natural temperatures, rather than artificially refrigerating seeds. You can read two blog posts on past winter-sowing workshops here and here.

Milkweed seeds
Here's the scoop:

Try an easy, inexpensive and fun way to grow lots of milkweed and other native perennials from seed. Planted in mini-greenhouses made from recycled household plastic containers placed outdoors, seeds germinate in the spring and plants are garden-ready by summer.

Join local enthusiasts from the Crown Point Garden Club who will help you get started. Participants need to bring planting containers (translucent milk jugs, litre-sized clear plastic bottles, or deep mushroom tubs), sharp scissors, potting mix, a bucket or large bowl, and seeds. Potting mix will be available to buy for $5 a bag.

The event happens Wed. Feb. 8, 7-9pm at Evergreen's Collaboration Station at 294 James St. North.
We'll be there! 

Space is limited and pre-registration is required through EventBrite 

In the mean time, get inspired and read up about winter-sowing here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Do it Yourself: Homes for Solitary Bees

Image from www.xerces.org
Many species of bees will make use of nesting structures such as Bee Nest Boxes.
A Bee Nest Box is similar to a bird house, except it is designed for native species of bees, which are some of our key pollinators.

Almost 1/3 of native bees nest in hollow stemmed plants. The female will build a "room" for an egg, complete with pollen and nectar. She seals off the "room" and then starts another one, continuing until the end of the stem. When the eggs hatch they will eat the pollen supply and then overwinter in their "room," emerging from the stem the next spring.
Many of Ontario's native bees are ground nesters and need un-mulched or bare patches of the garden. Leaving a pile of sticks in the back of the garden, not 'cleaning' the garden in the fall is beneficial for nesting and overwintering pollinators which depend on standing, dead stalks (ex. raspberry) to survive the winter.

Remember, the bee nests provide habitat, but it is also important to have food nearby. Planting native plants that flower from spring to fall will provide food for the bees and other pollinators, and will also make an attractive and low maintenance garden.

Pollinators such as bees can thrive in urban environments, particularly when we incorporate their habitat needs into our gardens. This can be as simple as adding native wildflowers to the garden, or can involve creating pollinator habitats in city parks. Not using chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides is also important.

Pollinators need a variety of flowering plants throughout the spring, summer and fall, nesting sites and a water source. Visit the Pollinator Plant page to learn more about native pollinator-friendly plants.

Bees and other pollinators cannot use a conventional bird bath. Instead, line a shallow pan with rocks or marbles and regularly add fresh water.

By creating nesting habitat, and planting native wildflowers, Hamilton will be creating a paradise for pollinators!

BUILDING A BEE NEST BOX

Pollination Guelph has a great design (which we use, see below). Check out their Making homes for Pollinators resource page.
Also www.xerces.org has some great designs for all types of bee nests.

What you will need:
5 pieces of wood about 1” thick