Monday, August 10, 2015

Mystery of the Month - August


Think about the last thing you ate today. It’s been said that about 30% or one in three bites we eat are influenced by the behavior of bees. One in three! Not only that, the cotton in our clothes relies greatly on pollination by insects. (Check out other crop plants pollinated by bees here)

Unfortunately, due to the increased use of pesticides in agriculture and residential areas, those bee communities we rely on for food and cotton are disappearing. Changes in land use and popular yard choices (aka, turf grass) have also reduced the population by eliminating the habitat bees rely on for pollen and nectar, shelter, and resources to produce the next generation.

One in three bites!


What would our day look like if there were no bees left?

Bees are incredibly important. I personally rely on food and clothing a LOT so I certainly want to keep these tiny work horses around for their own good, and the good of an intricate ecosystem they hold in balance. Heck, maybe it is even time I started working for my kiwi and denim by undoing some of the damage we’ve done to a pollinator community these crops rely on.

Who are these bees? What plants do they frequent in my yard and in my local park? How can I help monitor their populations to know if a species is going under, remaining steady, or coming back?

Bee sure the Maplewood Nature Center has a way to get you the answers to these questions!

Bee-come a Bee Monitor! 

Join Maplewood Nature Center for an exceptional Citizen Science Pollinator Training and Survey at Maplewood Nature Center and Fish Creek Natural Area. (Adult program)

Date and Time: Saturday and Sunday, Sept 12 and 13 (Rain date is Saturday and Sunday, Sept 26 and 27)  Details for these two programs are as follows: 

Pollinator Training: Saturday, Sept 12, 10 am - 4 pm, at Maplewood Nature Center, Location 2659 E 7th St.
Bees are one of our most important pollinators, but little is known about the bees that live in our natural landscapes. Learn how to distinguish bees from other flower-visiting insects, how to identify honey bees and native bees, and methods for monitoring bees. Participants will gain practical experience with hands-on activities including working with pinned specimens, examining bees in a restored prairie, and practicing the methods for standardized data collection. The training is free and participants will receive a Citizen Scientist Pollinator Monitoring Guide and other reference material. Activities will include classroom and outdoor time. Wear comfortable walking shoes, long pants and long sleeves. Bring a hat, sunglasses, lunch and water bottle.

Bee Monitoring at Fish Creek: Sunday, Sept 13, 1-4 pm at Fish Creek Natural Area, Park on Henry Lane, Just off of Carver Avenue in South Maplewood.
Put your training to use to monitor pollinators at the new Fish Creek Natural Area. Participants will meet at Fish Creek to walk transects; survey for pollinators and learn about the Fish Creek restoration. Data gathered will provide baseline information that will be tracked as the prairie restoration matures. Participants need to be able to withstand tall grasses, uneven terrain. Wear Sturdy walking shoes.  

Both programs are free! Register by Sept 9. To register online, go to or call 651-249-2170.

This course will be taught by Xerces Society Entomologists, Great River Greening Ecologists and City of Maplewood Naturalists. Funding for this project is provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.


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