News from the Hive: Making a Home for All Pollinators

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News From the Hive pollinators og image

Some very important pollinators need our help. Hummingbirds, for instance, are on the red list, which means they are on the cusp of endangerment. And the population of monarch butterflies has dropped 27% from last year’s population.

With habitat loss as the main problem for hummingbirds, we have decided to include hummingbird feeders around the apiary. They are made from beer bottles, copper wire, a hummingbird feeding tube, and a regular plant hook that goes into the ground. See how to make them below.

The annual migration of North America’s monarch butterfly is a unique and amazing phenomenon. The monarch is the only butterfly known to make a two-way migration in much the way that many birds do. Unlike other butterflies that can overwinter as larvae, pupae, or even as adults in some species, monarchs cannot survive the cold winters of northern climates. Using environmental cues, the monarchs know when it is time to travel south for the winter. Monarchs use a combination of air currents and thermals to travel long distances. Some fly as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home! Monarchs in Eastern North America have a second home in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. Monarchs in Western North America overwinter in California.1

During the spring and summer seasons, the Apiary will become a loving home for the butterflies of New York—black swallowtail, eastern tiger swallowtail, clouded sulphur, buckeye, spring azure, monarch and pearl crescents are the most common butterflies in the area.

The monarchs need our help, the population of the beautiful and iconic black and orange butterfly has plummeted by approximately 90 percent in just the last two decades.2 Monarchs are threatened by the loss of their habitats—the lack of available milkweed—a source of food for the caterpillar stage of development—and of nectar-giving plants for adult butterflies. The loss of habitat in the U.S. and Mexico, through land conversion of habitat for agriculture, use of pesticides, and illegal logging in the monarchs overwintering homes threatens the monarch population.

The Apiary garden will give these two species a safe environment to rest their wings and eat a lovely meal. You too can help the monarchs and hummingbirds by building feeders at home, and planting butterfly-friendly plants in your own backyard!

To help monarchs and other local butterflies, plant these flowers in your garden or yard:

  • milkweed
  • New England aster
  • red clover · daisies
  • sunflowers
  • phlox
  • honeysuckle
  • butterfly bush
  • bee balm
  • goldenrod

You might consider supporting the hummingbirds by making one of these at home. Here are the steps!

  1. Clean the bottles and scrape off all labels and stickers
  2. After the bottles are dry, paint the outside with bright colors (reds and yellows are best) and cover with a waterproof sealant or paint.
  3. Once the paint is dry, wrap the copper wire around the bottle to secure it to the plant hanger. Leave about four inches at the base of the bottle to bend a hook and hang.
  4. Fill the bottle with hummingbird feed. This can be found at any local hardware store or you can make it using 1 part water and 4 parts sugar (boil and cool thoroughly).
  5. Insert the feeding tube with flower-like tip.
  6. Gently flip the bottle over and hang the feeder on the plant hanger in your yard or garden!

1Monarch Butterfly Migration and Overwintering United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. (2017).] Available at: https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/Monarch_Butterfly/migration/index.shtml

2New Numbers Show Monarch Butterfly Populations Still in Trouble. Mizejewski, David., The National Wildlife Federation Blog. Available at: http://blog.nwf.org/2017/02/new-numbers-show-monarch-butterfly-populations-still-in-trouble/

By Emma Bukovsky