Join in some Bee fun this summer.
Gateway Park, Natural Pollinator Habitat
Sheldon and West Street, Fitchburg, MA
National Bee Count
Saturday, June 22, 10 am to 12 Noon.
Learn why bees are important and what bees are found in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Bee Count will be recorded. Data will be sent to Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco, CA. The nonprofit will coordinate bee counts from around the country to obtain scientific information on bee health.
Bring a light weight chair or something to sit on, sunscreen, water, hat, pad and pencil.
If you are in the area, come on out and help pollinators, which are suffering a decline anywhere from 40 to 90 percent.
Want to read the news about the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, WI? This where it all began a few years ago which seems like long, long time ago to the volunteers who made it possible. Enjoy the read at
Bees are the number one pollinator and butterflies are the second most important pollinator in the world.
Pollinators are necessary to pollinate flowers, crops and fruits and include native bees, butterflies, moths and bats. It is harmful to use herbicides and insecticides on lawns, farm crops, along roadways and in the garden. Insecticides kill larva and adult insects including bees and butterflies. Herbicides kill weeds often eliminating biodiversity of native plants that pollinators need to survive.
Without pollinators, many of the world’s crop species would disappear. This could include foods such as native squash, potatoes, tomatoes and pumpkins. Only the native bumblebee pollinates potatoes and the bumblebee is being used commercially to pollinate tomatoes.
According to The Xerces Society, Franklin’s bumblebee is already threatened in California. There are hundreds of native bee species in the United States. Bees need a place to live and they need healthy pollen sources. Won’t you make your garden pollinator friendly? In return, native bees and butterflies will delight you by visiting your garden.
I am pleased to say that the metal and cement sculpture art is in the habitat now. Michell Carlisle, mother to intern Tabitha Brown, graciously donated a cement sculpture of Psyche with wire butterfly wings in glass and wood beads. This is the first art that visitors will see when they enter the habitat. The art looks contemporary and could be interpreted as modern or folk art. Psyche has been around from the time of classical Rome and is the only surviving full-length novel by Lucius Apuleius from that time period. The book Metamorphoses translates to butterfly metamorphoses. . Corrie Wolf’s father, Raymond “Duke” Wolf, donated a professional sign for the habitat. It says Happy Tonics Butterfly Garden. Tabitha not only arranged for the art she helped create both donations. She was a great help to us through the early parts of summer and all through the winter of 2010.
Tabitha was our ambassador at the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College and made sure that the 2009-2010 Environmental Film Fest was a success. I don’t know what I would have done without her. This year was extremely hard on me with my husband’s illness. Through memorial donations from Pauline and Dennis McFadden, Ballston Spa, NY; Ann Stambeck, Bobby and Bootsie Bailey and Diane Dryden of Shell Lake, WI, and Erica Hohos, Worcester, MA, I was able to purchase a metal tulip by the artist William F. Colburn, Jr. of Fairhope, Alabama. This is a memorial to my husband, Willard H. DeJong. Will originally was from Holland and moved to the United States at age seven. The tulip is the famed flower of the Netherlands. The art is in the Memory Tree Grove on the far northern side of the habitat.
Our summer intern Brennan Harrington helped with building a wood frame for the sign. The wood used was cut and stripped from his own land in Stonebrook. He cemented the sculptures in the ground for permanence. Brennan was also a great help at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in the summer of 2010. He took total charge of removing spotted knapweed, an invasive species, watering plants and making sure the path was maintained. It is a big job to maintain a ½ acre habitat and I appreciate everything he did for us.
It was amazing to see the goldenrod. There were long lasting golden blooms at the habitat from September to end of October. I witnessed an abundance of small native bees including bumble bees on the plants when the heat of the sun starts to wane. They were seen in groups enjoying the last of the nectaring goldenrod. We have two species of goldenrod at the habitat one is stiff and the other is showy. Showy goldenrod has a cylindrical cluster of flowers. Stiff goldenrod has a flattened inflorescence and broad thick basal leaves. I feel the stiff goldenrod is so pretty it should be called showy instead of stiff.
Bees appear to be like family in that they share and don’t compete for a food source. Bees just enjoy themselves. There is plenty for all. I saw up to twenty bees on just a few plants.
An ethnobotany teacher, Leslie Ramsyck, told me that goldenrod does not cause allergies, although many people argue this fact. Don Engebretson and Don Williamson in Perennials for Michigan and Wisconsin state that goldenrod blooms at the same time when ragweed is out. Both species belong to the Ambrosia family. The difference between the two plants is that goldenrod does not cause allergies (183). There is actually a difference between ragweed also. The native ragweed does not cause llergies. It is the exotic ragweed that is the problem according to Ramsyck.
Goldenrods are resistant to pests. Some wasps prefer to make the stem a home. Eggs of the wasp are inserted into the stem which creates a stem gall. The larva lives within and burst out at some point as wasps.
Sunday, September 26, I stopped at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat to pick tall bluestem seed for a seed saving project. We want to offer online prairie friends the opportunity to buy a little of our native grass seed. We don’t sell seed by the pound or even by the ounce for that matter. When we ship common milkweed seed, the package contains 20-30 seeds. Tomorrow I will mail milkweed seed to Florida and Virginia. People are not greedy. They just want to help the butterfly by planting the host plant for the monarch.
As I strolled leisurely through the habitat, I saw at least a dozen yellow sulphur butterflies flitting about gathering nectar from periwinkle showy asters and yellow blooming birds foot trefoil. Among the stiff and showy goldenrod, I saw many species of native bees sipping nectar.
Summer may be over but the habitat is still alive with the activity of smaller species such as the insects which I saw in the warm sun enjoying the last days of blooming wildflowers. Soon a colder freeze will come and all life will go dormant to wait out the long cold winter.
I am enjoying these last few days of documenting and photographing the littlest of species that make our natural world complete.
On 24 April 2010 Happy Tonics held the III Annual Earth Day Event in Shell Lake at the Native Wildflower and Butterfly Garden. This year it did not snow like it did in 2008 but it rained. Heaven smiled upon us in sending the rains in the 7th year of drought.
We all took a pinch of tobacco and offered our good thoughts along with tobacco to the Ojibwe birch bark basket. Then Dr. John Anderson offered prayers to the Creator in thanksgiving for the rain and we dedicated our ceremony “To honor the bees.”
John taught the audience that man once honored all the four legged, finned and winged relatives. Somehow we have become disconnected. He gave an example of how the dog dances when he sees you return safely home. Every one with loving smiles looked at the dog he was speaking about. The four-legged one just listened intently to John speaking .
Ginger Wilcox gave a message as she held the sacred Eagle Feather. We need to protect and honor the pollinators. The Earth will survive without human beings.
Mother Earth knows how to protect herself. We must reconnect to Mother Earth and respect her so that human beings can survive too. We need to protect the butterflies, bees and native plants and stop destroying the natural world or there will be no natural resources for future generations.
Paul Schaefer spoke about beekeeping. He and his wife Beverly are beekeepers in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, USA. The pure and organic honey that they produce is absolutely delicious. There is an urgent need for younger generation to get involved in beekeeping. Without bees, we will have no food. Native bees are also in decline including four species of the beloved bumble bee. Xerces Society is a good start to learn about native bees and beekeeping. The local lunch was made possible by a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board.
The Wednesday Sit and Stitch Quilt Group made this handmade butterfly quilt as a Fundraiser for Happy Tonics. It took the senior ladies a year to complete the project and the quilt was on display for the Earth Day attendees to view. It will be auctioned off online or through a raffle later this summer. First the quilt is being entered into the 100th Anniversary Fair in Spooner, Wisconsin, this summer. We surely hope this beautiful quilt wins a ribbon.
The last message of the day is that we must all do our part to protect Mother Earth for the next 7 generations.
Let us plant host and nectar plants for the pollinators so that Baby Eden will have a natural world when she grows up.
Happy Tonics needs your VOTE to help us do our work. Officers and Board Members give of their time to educate and implement programs to adapt to Climate Change by promoting Sustainability of Native Plants, Monarch Butterfly and other pollinator habitat. Our mission is: Sanctuary for the Monarch Butterfly and Food Safety Issues.
We are a small grassroots nonprofit that needs your help to WIN our Climate Change Native Habitat and Community Garden Shell Lake grant proposal.
This is not Happy Tonics first attempt to bring Adapting to Climate Change into national awareness.
We were honored to participate in the Green Effect grant process with National Geographic sponsored by Sun Chips in 2009. Although other worthy causes won, we believe that each of us must do our part to bring the message of adapting to climate change home. (National Geographic, Green Effect Winning Ideas for a Better World, November 2009, insert after pg. 6.)
Happy Tonics did the same thing in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, USA. We created a Monarch Butterfly Habitat, a restored remnant native tall grass prairie, where once buffalo roamed and tall grasses grew. The habitat is alongside of an old railroad bed on a narrow strip of land, on one half acre. The railroad bed is now a trail for foot travel, bicycle and horses.
Dennis Van Engelsdorp spoke about the importance of helping the pollinators especially honey and native bees including the beloved bumble bee. He suggests letting meadows grow. You can view the video on our Blog re: A Plea for Bees.
Let’s get beyond the written world. I would love to hear from you and learn what you are doing right now to help Green Up your corner of the world. Let’s turn the abandoned wasteland into something beautiful as a Pay it Forward act of kindness for generations to come.