What’s up y’all it’s another wet weekend here in Wooster and the weather has been wicked. I hope you have managed to keep dry, are surrounded by clear skies, and are ready to conceptualize the growth of our Pollinator Patch enterprise!
On Monday we visited the William J Robertson Preserve in Rittman, Ohio, where I got a 20-step tutorial in how to conduct a sweep. Since I identified all of the 2021 Fern Valley sweep samples this past week, it’s exciting to have learned that method of specimen collection.
Funnily enough, the bug you see above is actually what Dr. Moreno and I are searching for amongst the mulch experiment in the next town over (Orville)! I set up the last set of sticky traps at Lavender Trails yesterday, and we are scheduled to collect them tomorrow. It’s wild that we’re already at the end of our sampling season and are back on track to the start of school…
On Tuesday, Dr. Moreno and a couple of his advisees got to help Brendan Ortiz (Woo ’23) with the start of his hydroponic workshop over in Akron, Ohio. Set up at the Akron Cooperative Farms’ main pavilion, individuals had the opportunity to learn and build their own deep culture hydroponic system. The workshop will run throughout the summer and students will engage with various hands-on activities concerning the ins and outs of urban gardening. During a tour, we spotted an excellent example of warden signage employed by the Cooperative to signal the presence of two honeybee hives nearby.
Stars of the ‘Scope
The first of a few lady beetles this blog post, I like this lil guy because the spots make it seem like it’s smiling [ :
Cool find from the 6/18/22 Pollinator Plot Pan Trap Collection, a Holcopasites cuckoo bee! Known to exercise brood parasitism on Calliopsis bees (the yellow-faced fellows from a previous post), these parasitic bees manage to infiltrate their offspring into solitary bee nests, where they later commandeer food resources from the Calliopsis’ young.
The coneflower from last week surprised us with two new blooms! Aren’t they great? The Ironweed bloomed as well over this week, and the bees are already loving it!
Although there is certainly an abundance of aphids on this milkweed, I decided not to counter them with soap because the plant is going to seed and had already stopped flowering. Interestingly though, you will notice how the aphids at the College Garden are yellow whereas those occupying the False Sunflowers in the Pine Patch are red. As aphids are considered primary culprits of plant damage, I’ll keep a lookout for any blue ones!
Too Bee-zy To Be Bothered
The weather of the past couple of months may have given our plants a slight lean, yet you will notice that they are still happy, lively, and green!
In continuation of his study surrounding the impact of honeybees on local bees, Matt Pardi’s bee box has arrived this week in the Pine Patch. You may notice a larger number of honeybees out & about so keep it top of mind that you don’t want to disturb the hive!
Special New Petals
One new bloom to the Pine Patch this week: Wild Senna! Also as a bonus, try your hand at spotting the bee… I’m sure our bud is around there somewhere!
Guardians of the Garden
Bun 1 & Bun 2 Visit the Pine Patch Past Sun Set
The sunflowers have arrived and they really showed up in all the colors of the sun! It looks like the bees are already finding them rather fun. And when the rest of the buds begin their blaze there will be more sunny news to come!
The sisters have apparently decided to branch out from their beds and start networking with one another. Make sure to watch your step if you’re strolling through the straw aisles!
[Found Around Town]
Hey! That’s a Hibiscus?
I don’t know about you, but I generally don’t associate hibiscus flowers with Wooster, Ohio! Here are several that I spotted across campus, it’s a shame that they’ll be gone before the fall…
Storms A Brewin’
We’ve had a week of storms here in Wooster. On Wednesday these cool clouds could be seen next to the arch, & I managed to get a picture of the lightning mid-strike:
The rain has been pouring incessantly today, which will make for easy weeding on Monday! Thank you for taking the time to check in on our Plots & other happenings on this mildly moody Sunday.
Signs Explain Experimental Designs
Dr. Moreno and I were supposed to attend Lavender Trails’ Vendor Day today from noon to 3pm, however it ended up being cancelled due to the inclement weather. Since y’all didn’t have the opportunity to make it down, I included some of the signage we had displayed next to the experimental plots throughout this past week:
This prickly pear cactus-looking spider followed me back from LT last Wednesday… After poking him under the microscope I was able to utilize Seek by iNaturalist to help identify it! If you also enjoy knowing the names of the life around you, I highly recommend checking out their mobile app. Turns out this was not a cactus spider (darn) but rather an immature Araneus cingulatus, a member of the orb weaver family.
Only A Year & We’re Here
Here’s a quick comparison of the College Garden from a year ago to today! I can’t wait to see how much it’ll grow throughout the school year:
Coneflower Coming Soon!
We have yet to see the purple echinacea bloom ever since its original planting in early June of 2021. This bud looks promising though and hopefully they’ll choose to share their hues with us soon!
‘Tis Mountain Mint season down here at the College Garden & the pollinators are coming in pairs to get a test of this (b)r(ee)zy refreshment!
Plants & Pals
A few pix of the various other pollinators spotted about the College Garden:
Reigning in the Rain Gardens
An often overlooked patch of campus, Wooster has supported this rain garden experiment for quite some time. Meant as a way to determine the success of Iron-Osorb™ in removing harmful toxins from surface water run off, these two gardens were once tested and compared regularly. In fact, when I first toured in 2019, they handed out little packets of Iron-Osorb™ for us to take home to try out! Although it remains unmanaged today, we include the Rain Gardens in our Pollinator Plot pan trap sampling because it is home to several native plants. Read more about the rain gardens below:
A Tip Toes Type of Photo
One new bloom this week – Tall Tickseed! It took me several tries to get this photo right, prolly because this plant is over twice my height!
Who’s Hovering by the Hula Hoops?
We gained a new researcher in the Pollinator Plots this week! Matt Pardi (Woo ’23) is continuing the work of Ren Johnson (Woo ’22) in the Pine Patch over the next month. Studying how honeybee hives affect the competitive be(e)haviour of local bees, both Ren & Matt collected live samples from the Pine Patch with a special bee-sized-vacuum. After observing the amount of pollen the bees gathered, they are released. To randomize where the bees are collected from, Matt and Ren utilized hula hoops to provide a standardized radius of sampling. Be(e) sure to wave if you see Matt in the field!
Buzz on the Block
Petal or Pollinator?
Most bees you see are dusted with bright yellow pollen, but some carry it around in little sacks on their legs better known as corbiculae! While bees don’t have knees, see if you can spot this Agapostemon’s pockets:
Pitter Patter Lets Get At Her
Here we go, it’s time for round 2
Bowls spray-painted white yellow & blue
A 24-hour trap period should do
Doesn’t matter which color they choose
For the soon-to-be iNaturalist muse
Vials Upon Vials
Surprisingly, the pan traps managed to avoid being affected by the rain storms this weekend. It even appeared to be the most bees I’ve collected in a sample period yet, with some bowls having upwards of 6 bees! I’m eager to get these be(e)uties into the Salon so they can make their debuts on iNaturalist.
Sisters Cover Sisters
Here is a great view of the sister system in action! The crawling squash is acting as a living cover crop, in that it reduces the amount of weeds that are able to grow. However, due to the clever planning of Dr. Mariola and his team of helpers, the shade cast from its large leaves does not overcome the beans. In fact some of the beans have even started to climb the corn! Isn’t that a-maize-ing?
Here Comes the Sun(flowers)
These plants are growing taller than me on the daily now… I’m be(e)wildered!
Grounds Is Great
I’m unsure of when the College of Wooster Grounds Department originally be(e)gan planting native flowers around campus, but I thought I’d share an example of one of their plots outside of Kauke. And in a previous post you can take a walk around campus to view some of their other plantings!
With our newfound recognition as a certified Bee Campus, we are excited to continually improve people-pollinator relations. I would like to take a moment though, to acknowledge and share my appreciation for the be(e)utiful job that our Grounds Department have been doing to promote pollinators. Two additional instances that set Wooster Grounds apart from the others came to my mind on a walk this past week:
Green-Thinking When Trimming
While the image above may appear rather mundane at first glance, you might find it difficult to find a weed in this photo that are not the clovers. Knowing that Grounds maintains this line of the sidewalk with herbicides, I found it interesting as well as telling of their character that they left this flowering plant be.
Stumped? So What?
Trees are a great nesting resource for solitary bees of all sorts, so keeping this stump in place shows that Grounds is keeping pollinators in mind and are pro-hive!
All in all, I’m glad to get to work alongside a team of dedicated individuals. They are truly a be(e)con of inspiration.
Speaking of non-Pollinator Plot plants, I have never actually seen one of these flowers be pollinated be(e)fore! However, when considering what I’ve learned through my I.S. research, it makes since that it would be a bumble bee. This is be(e)cause bumblebees are highly adept at collecting pollen from a wide variety of flowers. Although they may not be specialists, a kind of bee that pollinates certain flowers really well, their ability to pollinate a plethora of flowers ultimately acts as a benefit in that it expands their foraging range.
Close-Cousins of Bumble Bees
Here are some other members of the Hymenoptera order:
Welcome back, I hope you enjoyed some be(e)utiful weather this week. If not, our most recent news is sure to brighten your day: on July 7th, 2022 we were officially recognized as a Xerces Society Bee Campus USA affiliate! We are over the moon with excitement and can’t wait to be(e)gin making the most of our partnership!
Pretty Much Pinned
More good news this week: I finished pinning all of the bees that were caught in the last Pollinator Plot pan trap sampling! They’re going to need to dry for a while on the Styrofoam before I can move them around under the microscope. Our second collection will be occurring next week, so stay on the lookout for brightly colored bowls across campus.
An Emerald Angle
This be(e)dazzling sweat bee took the top spot for best microscope pic of the week:
Tough Love Kid
Still stuck on the sticky traps this week, I was able to complete one of last year’s collections. The picture you see highlights the reoccurring situation I found frozen across several traps… The four large bugs that look like roadkill are actually aphids, and all of those orange specks are their babies. With over 21 kiddos in this cluster alone I can safely say I’m glad not to be an aphid.
Beneficial Bug Compost
Got too many spare bugs lying around and taking up space? Well, I’ve found the perfect (resting) place! Helpful in a myriad of ways, this bug compost will make the most of their short lived days…
All Tucked In
This week, Dr. Mariola’s team of vegetable garden helpers tackled the first row of mulching. I think the bergamot stood a little taller for this photo:
Be(e)tween the Aisles
No new blooms this week, but I got a couple of good pics – have a peek!
One new bloom this week: Grey-headed coneflower! I included some more brown-eyed Susans as well to provide a contrasting yellow coneflower.
Buzz on the Block
Be(e)sides the Bees
Beetles be(e)ware! We got another bug bag this week because if you look be(e)neath our original one you will find that its contents gave way… hooray?
Apples on Apples
If you haven’t had the opportunity to stop by the vegetable garden you will notice some bags on the Fruit Trees! Each bag is protecting a growing apple and serves as a preventative measure against pests (in the event the Beetle Traps are not enough).
It’s Pepper Weather
Pictures of plants? Sorry, I thought you said pictures of peppers.
How High Can You Grow?
I know that it has been a second since y’all have had updates on the Sister System, but see how much it’s filled in?!
[I.t’S. Coming Along]
First collection down! Several more left to go!
I will need to pin them before I will be able to know
What sort of bees fly to and fro
the William J. Robertson Nature Preserve,
and perhaps even call it home!
[Point of View]
You’re a bug on the sidewalk and traffic is light:
…Is it already July? Wow the summer is really starting to s(bee)d on by! Here’s an update to inform you on how I’ve bee(n) spending my time:
Starting the Lavender Trials
On Monday we spent a couple hours setting up the sticky traps for Dr. Moreno’s mulch experiment at Lavender Trails. The bamboo rods are placed around the perimeter of the largest plant within each treatment. With 5 rows of 6 treatments, we put out a total of 30 sticky traps.
Be(e)low are a couple of bumble bees spotted by the lavender this past week. Lavender Trails is open for all of July, so make sure to head on over!
Fam, It’s Time for a Break
After identifying a good portion of last year’s data to family, I will now be moving onto a new task. Instead of individually moving each specimen from their vial and into a petri dish of ethanol for identification, I will be using the microscope to look at sticky traps through plastic bags.
When analyzing the sticky traps I had three main objectives: to count the total number of spittlebugs (aka froghoppers) present on the entire trap, then count the number of other Hemiptera and Hymenoptera that could be viewed through the 1″ panel of this nifty contraption. I identified the appropriate insects to family and then entered the data into a spreadsheet.
Although I will need to double-check my work, I finished our 6/29 collection (pictured in the left bin) and will begin working on last year’s data next week!
Hues in View
Our Bergamot is our one new bloom this week! You may find it similar to our Scarlett Beebalm, and that’s because they’re in the same genus! A be(e)tter fact to share with your friends is that both beebalm and bergamot are in the same family as mint (:
Reaching New Heights
Last year the ironweed needed to be propped up to grow straight, and now it’s truly holding its own weight! Enjoy this comparison of what nearly a year can do.
Me (5’3/4″) next to the Ironweed (5’3″+). Can you be(e)lieve it’s the same plant?
Caught in the Act
… Of be(e)ing a tired bunny
Here you can see damage caused by the collective efforts of the Japanese and Goldenrod Leaf Miner Beetles on the Goldenrod plants. When I pulled back the leaves, one beetle tried to make a clean getaway… You gotta be(e) quicker than that buddy!
Be(e)ting the Beetles
Thank the Gods (or Dr. Mariola) for blessing us with the contraption you can see below. This beetle bag is equipped with pheromones that attract the Japanese Beetles into a contained area (and is designed in a way that prevents escapes). Once full, the bag is emptied and replaced so that it can continue keeping the pests at bay.
There are new updates on iNaturalist from our 6/18/22 collection! These yellow-faced bees be(e)long to the genus Calliopsis:
Sunflower the Prowler
In lieu of updates for the Vegetable Garden, I give you Sunflower, Wooster’s friendly neighborhood feline:
[(I.)n the Work(S.)]
Reading the Signs
As mentioned earlier in this post, Lavender Trails is a former brownfield. What is a brownfield you ask? Read more on their sign pictured below! This is along the same vein of information that I am researching for my I.S., and will be learning how to communicate on signage to put out at the William J. Robertson Preserve. The signs I will implement at the Preserve will include an added emphasis on native pollinators along with a brief historical background of how their plot be(e)came what it is today. I highly recommend that you stop by Lavender Trails to see their own Pollinator Pathway, complete with fun and engaging pollinator facts suited for all ages!
It’s A Trap!
Today I put out the first pan traps for my summer research! I will be back tomorrow to see what I was able to collect, and get to work on identifying… If all goes to plan I should have several more collections taking place over the next couple of months!