Life Outside the City Limits
- Poultry Predator Prevention on the Acreage
- How Many Eggs Can I Expect From My Chickens?
- Wildlife Management - Bat Control & Humane Wildlife Trapping
- Storing an Emergency Water Supply
- Pine Needles and Soil Acidity
- Southeast Nebraska Woodland Gems
- Landscaping with Prairie Beauties
- Small Fruits Beyond Raspberry & Strawberry
- Grape Disease Management
- Pruning Fruit Trees
- Yellow Nutsedge
- Encouraging Pollinators
Poultry Predator Prevention on the Acreage
By Brett Kreifels, UNL Livestock Extension Assistant
A small flock of chickens, ducks, geese or turkeys is an excellent addition to any acreage. The benefits of fresh eggs or meat make poultry a practical and enjoyable presence on your acreage. Yet like you, other animals like to eat eggs or poultry. With good management practices and attention to detail, you can ensure the safety of your flock from marauding predators.
Predators of poultry are numerous and can attack from the ground, water or sky; during the day or at night. Predators of poultry include: dogs, cats, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, weasels, mink, opossums, skunks, hawks, owls, large fish, snapping turtles and rats.
Luckily, keeping poultry safe does not have to be a labor intensive process nor does it take a lot of material to make sure your coop or barn is secure. The most important thing you can do is routinely lock your birds up at night. Because most poultry predators are night-time hunters, it makes sense to put your birds in for the night when the sun goes down and let them out in the morning to forage.
A secure building is also required. Many predator species, such as rats, can make their way into your coop with ease through small openings in the wall or a crack in the window. Other predators like foxes or coyotes are master diggers and will readily tunnel their way under wire to access your flock. Burying wire 2-3 feet below the ground around the outdoor foraging area can help prevent fox and coyote access. A canopy or roof consisting of chicken wire or hardware cloth above the foraging area not only prevents your chickens or other fowl from flying out and escaping, it also prevents airborne predator attack from hawks and owls; hawks being the day-time predator and owls being the night-time predator.
Waterborne predators such as snapping turtles and large fish (gar, catfish and bass) will rarely bother adult ducks and geese but rather prey on young ducklings and goslings if a pond is accessible. Sadly, prevention of this type of attack is not practical unless you physically remove the turtles and fish from the pond. Traps are available to be used for turtle removal. Restricting access to the pond is the best preventative measure against water attacks.
Many acreage owners enjoy seeing their chickens or ducks running around the property fence-free. While this is an enjoyable sight, be reminded that predators are also watching the chickens or ducks along with you. Occasionally, night-time predators like coyotes and foxes may venture out in the day time and snatch one of your hens. Hawks are another key day-time predator, often seizing unsuspecting prey from the air.
Acreage Predator Protection and Prevention
Keeping the property well mowed and free of large grasses, bushes or brush piles where predators can stage an ambush can deter predators by denying them the element of surprise but no, legal, means of control is available for hawks and eagles during the day. Under federal law, it is illegal to shoot and kill any bird of prey (eagles, hawks, falcons, kestrels and owls). Allowing your poultry to forage away from large trees gives some protection. Electrified wire fencing may also be an option to be placed around the coop or a small parcel of land where the chickens or other poultry are allowed to forage. It is perfectly legal however to destroy any predator (other than raptors) that are destroying your property (poultry). Please check with the Nebraska Game and Parks for further information on depredation measures.
Products such as Night Guard® are devices that emit a strobe of red light throughout the night to protect poultry against night time predators. These solar-powered units are placed at eye-level with the animal being deterred. The animal will be frightened, thinking its cover has been blown as these lights are intended to mimic the eye shine of another, unfamiliar animal. This product is equipped to control coyotes, foxes, raccoons, owls and other night-time predators.Removing Predators
Some predators can be easily removed from the property a number of ways. To do so requires patience and attention to detail. Understanding the predator's habits will aid in removing predators from your property but there is no guarantee that once one predator is removed, another might move in. Live traps are often used to remove predators humanely. When choosing to live trap, determine what type of predator you're dealing with and set out an appropriately sized trap. The time it takes to capture the predator may vary depending on the type of predator. Coyotes and foxes are often reluctant to enter traps due to their wariness of human scents whereas raccoons, skunks and opossums are often easier to catch. It may be a good idea to use a trail camera set up close to the trap to capture the habits and time of day the predator arrives to better gauge how the predator approaches or reacts around the trap. Leg traps or hand cuff traps may be a useful trap alternative but please consult your local game laws on their use.
Baits may be used to lure the predator into the trap. These baits include: dry or moist cat or dog food, a punctured can of tuna or sardines, other dead fish, marshmallows (raccoons), live chickens (safely secured in a separate cage), chicken giblets, table scraps, etc. Baits should NOT be infused with poisons. Many laws prevent this practice and the repercussions of doing so could be devastating if a family or neighbor's pet should happen upon the poisoned baits. Please consult your local game laws pertaining to the release of the captured predator. Many laws stipulate where and how far an animal may be released and some laws ban the release of certain predators and require the animal to be euthanized.
As long as people have raised poultry there have been predators to try and grab an easy meal from the unsuspecting farmer or acreage owner. Locking the poultry in at night, making sure your property is properly mowed and free of clutter and modifying your coop to prevent openings can greatly minimize your chances of having your poultry attacked by predators. It inevitably will happen, but hopefully you'll have the tools in place to prevent widespread predation.
The first week in June is Nebraska Wildflower Week, and we have many to celebrate! Here are a few to consider for your acreage, either in beds, or scattered in the prairie.
The use of green roofs is encouraged in cities, but they can be used in rural areas to manage stormwater as well. Bobbi Holm, UNL Extension discusses stormwater management and the benefits of green roofs.
Having fresh eggs for meals or for baking can be a rewarding part of raising your own chickens. But what is a realistic expectation for how many eggs your chickens will produce each day?
The laying cycle of a chicken flock usually covers a span of 12 months. Egg production begins when the young hens (pullets) reach about 18 - 22 weeks of age depending on the breed and season. Flock production rises sharply and reaches a peak of about 90% 6 - 8 weeks later. This period of peak production lasts about 10 weeks, after which a hen's egg production slowly begins to decline. Production declines to about 65% after 12 months.
- 90% production - 9 eggs in 10 days for a single hen, or 9 eggs from 10 birds daily
- 65% production - 6 to 7 eggs in 10 days for a single hen, or 6 to 7 eggs from 10 birds daily
Chickens can live for many years and continue to lay eggs for many of these years. However, after two or three years many hens significantly decline in productivity. This varies greatly from bird to bird.
Maximizing Egg Production
There are many factors that can adversely affect egg production. Egg production can be affected by such factors as feed consumption (quality and quantity), water intake, intensity and duration of light, parasite infestation, disease, and numerous management and environmental factors.
- Laying chickens require a completely balanced diet to sustain maximum egg production over time. Inadequate nutrition can cause hens to stop laying. Inadequate levels of energy, protein or calcium can cause a drop in egg production. If hens are out of feed for several hours, a decline in egg production will probably occur.
- Water is often taken for granted, and yet it is probably the most essential nutrient. Access to water is important, and a lack of water for several hours will probably cause a decline in egg production. Hens are more sensitive to a lack of water than a lack of feed.
- Hens need about 14 hours of day length to maintain egg production. The decreasing day length during the Fall and shorter day lengths in the Winter would be expected to cause a severe decline, or even cessation, in egg production unless supplemental light is provided. Hens exposed to only natural light would be expected to stop laying in the winter and then resume egg production in the spring.
- High environmental temperatures pose severe problems for all types of poultry. Egg production is adversely affected under conditions of severe heat stress.
There are a variety of other problems which can cause an apparent drop in egg production. Other factors can include predators and snakes consuming eggs, egg eating by hens in the flock, excessive egg breakage, and free-ranging hens hiding their eggs instead of laying them in the nests.
Wildlife Management - Bat Control and Humane Wildlife Trapping
By Stephen Vantassel, UNL Project Manager-Wildlife Damage Management
Nebraskans are beginning to notice "droppings" that keep appearing in the morning, even though they were removed the previous day. Yes, it is bat time in Nebraska. The following resources can help help.
- Bats, NebGuide 654, University of Nebraska- Lincoln Extension
- Bats, NebGuide 1549, University of Nebraska- Lincoln Extension
Humane Trapping: A Balancing Act discusses various aspects of humane trapping including an explaination of live trap vs cage/box trap, euthanasia vs humane-killing, equipment vs technique, snares vs cable-restraints. He also covers proper use of cage/box traps and proper use of lethal traps.
Stephen M. Vantassel is Program Coordinator of wildlife damage management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a Master NWCOA Instructor, Certified Wildlife Control Professional (CWCP), and runs the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management (ICWDM.org). He founded and operated Wildlife Removal Service, Inc. before coming to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He has written dozens of articles and several books on wildlife control and animal welfare topics.
Storing an Emergency Water Supply
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Water Quality Educator
There are many situations when a private drinking water supply may be interrupted, including power outages due to spring and summer storms. An emergency supply can be very helpful in these situations. One option is to purchase bottled water. Another option is to prepare and store water from your daily drinking and cooking supply. While needs will differ, a rule-of-thumb is to store one gallon of water per person per day. Store at least a three-day supply (or three gallons) for each person.
Your current supply of drinking and cooking water is probably suitable for storage. It should be free of bacteria and pathogens. Glass or plastic containers manufactured and used for food or beverage storage or those advertised as food-quality containers will be safe for water storage. Avoid using plastic milk containers if possible, as traces of fat may remain. Wash the containers and lids thoroughly with hot tap water and dish detergent. Rinse thoroughly with hot tap water. Or, wash the containers in a dishwasher.
Since bacteria can be introduced into the water during the collection and storage process, water collected for storage should be treated to inactivate pathogens. Use liquid household chlorine bleach that contains 4 to 6 percent sodium hypochlorite. Use the freshest container of liquid chlorine bleach available, preferably not more than three months old. Add six drops of bleach per gallon of water using a clean uncontaminated medicine dropper. Cap the container and shake to mix the chlorine. Let it stand for 30 minutes. You should be able to smell chlorine after the 30-minute waiting period. If you cannot, add another dose and let the water stand covered another 15 minutes. Cap the containers and label each with the date of preparation.
Store containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Store water in plastic containers away from gasoline, kerosene, pesticides, or similar substances because vapors from some of these products can penetrate plastic. Remember, water weighs over eight pounds per gallon, so make sure the shelf or storage area is strong enough to support the weight
For best quality, use or replace stored water every six months.
Pine Needles and Soil Acidity
By Kelly Feehan, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator
"Can a tree or shrub be planted where a pine tree was just removed or will the soil be too acid?" This is a question we seem to be hearing more often. Maybe because so many Scotch pine trees are dying from pine wilt and people are planning to replant the bare area.
Whatever the reason for the increase, the idea that pine needles will make a soil too acid is a myth. While pine needles themselves are acidic, plants do not have the ability to change the pH of the soil they are growing in. Sure would be nice if they could.
Soils in our area tend naturally to be alkaline. This is due mainly to the limestone parent material from which Great Plains soils were formed. The removal of topsoil during construction and replacement with subsoil, use of alkaline building materials, and high pH irrigation water also contribute to alkaline soils.
It seems to make sense that if pine needles are acidic, then over time they would lower soil pH or make it more acid. However, research conducted on surface mulch has shown that it has little effect on soil pH.
If mulch, like pine needles or sphagnum moss, were incorporated into the soil, over time they may result in a slight lowering of pH. However, in most cases, the use of high pH irrigation water is likely to counter such effects.
Go ahead and plant where a pine tree once grew without worrying about the soil being too acid. Since most plants prefer a slightly acid soil, with a little luck, the pH might be a little lower in that area. A soil test could be taken to test the pH of the soil as well.
Another question related to planting new trees where another tree had been planted is "how close to the old stump can the new tree be planted?" There seems to be a myth that new trees cannot be planted too close to where another tree had been planted.
If the old stump has not been ground out, and the plan is to let the stump decompose naturally; the new tree can be planted as close to the old stump as it is feasible to dig a wide (six to 12 inches wider than the new trees root ball), but not too deep of a planting hole.
It may be easier to dig the new planting hole four or five feet away from the old tree stump. Old, large tree roots can make digging more difficult. If it is preferred to plant the new tree as close to the old stump as possible, an axe may be needed to remove old roots to be able to dig a wide enough planting hole.
Ideally, the old stump would be ground out and the soil allowed to settle before planting the new tree. Waiting for the soil to settle helps prevent the new tree from settling too much after planting and end up being planted too deep.
Be sure to keep the wood chips from the ground out stump and use these as mulch around the new trees. Just be sure the mulch layer is only about four inches deep and not piled against the trunk.
The woodlands of southeast Nebraska contain a rich diversity of tree species, including many that cannot be found anywhere else in the state.
Indian Cave State Park, located in the steep Missouri River bluffs in Nemaha and Richardson Counties, is well-known for its fall foliage -- but its trees can be appreciated on a hike during spring and summer, as well. Several types of oaks, including bur, chinkapin, red, and black, dominate the upland slopes as an overstory while smaller trees like American hophornbeam and redbuds fill in the understory. The occasional shagbark hickory is unmistakeable with its namesake gray peeling bark somewhat resembling a leafspring from an old pickup.
In the lowland areas along rivers and streams, giant cottonwoods and pillar-like hackberries make a walk through the woods seem more like a stroll through a cathedral. Silver maples and green ash shoot toward the sky like leafy fountains, shouldering each other in competition for space and light. These fast-growing trees are a far cry from their domesticated cousins that have gained a poor reputation as limb-dropping, seed-spewing shade trees. In the woods, these trees live fast and grow close, taking on a completely different appearance and form.
An under-appreciated woodland closer to Lincoln is at the aptly-named Oak Glen Wildlife Management Area just north of Garland. Bur oaks form the gnarly old bones of this 633-acre wilderness, which likely represents the largest remaining stand of native woods in Seward County. A truly massive cottonwood is hidden along the creek bottom and can be seen if you're willing to walk through a couple hundred yards of cedar-infested forest from the parking area on the southern end of the property.
Wildlife Management Areas are a great place to start if you're looking for some solitude in the native woods - just remember to be aware of hunting seasons both for your own safety and for the consideration of others using the area! A quick check of satellite imagery, available widely online, can give you a reasonable guess as to whether there are woods worth the drive. The best bets would be WMAs located in Richardson, Otoe, or Nemaha County.
Wilderness Park in Lincoln is the most familiar place to see riparian forest for most Lincolnites, and it certainly has some nice trees within the forest. Look for several large American elms in the southern end of the park, survivors of the Dutch Elm Disease that killed off so many of the iconic street trees in cities across the country.
Perhaps no other town in Nebraska is as well-situated within the woods as Peru. The college bills itself as the "Campus of a Thousand Oaks" and it's not an overstatement. The small city is so nestled into the hilly oak forest that it can be difficult to tell where the street trees end and the woods begin. The Steamboat Trace Trail runs past Peru to the east, and is the best way to see the native forest in the hills.
While it's an easy matter for most anyone to ID a bur oak or cottonwood while walking the woods, unless you know what you're looking at, it's easy to miss a black oak, bitternut hickory, bladdernut, prickly ash, or a paw-paw unless you're either very experienced or have a good tree ID book at hand. Most public libraries have several good resources available. Make sure to get a book that's as specific to the region as possible - and color pictures can make things a lot easier!
Nebraska may be located in the heart of the Great Plains, but woodlands have found niches throughout the state - especially in the relatively wetter southeastern corner of Nebraska. So take a walk in the woods today! They're not as far away as you think.
The Nebraska Forest Service strives to enrich lives by protecting, restoring and utilizing Nebraska's tree and forest resources.
Prairie plants deserve more use in home landscapes. They can transform an "Anywhere, USA" yard into a place that preserves the unique beauty of Nebraska's plains heritage. And natives play a vital role for pollinators as both habitat and food source. Many of these plants are lovely in their own right, so we'll give some attention to a few lesser-known beauties. Some may be hard to find at a garden center, but they should be available from local or mail-order nurseries specializing in native plants.
Western sandcherry, Prunus besseyi. The airy, fountain-like habit and gentle, swaying plumage of this shrub bring a peaceful mood to the garden. White flowers in April or May; leaves turn mahogany red in fall; August fruits can be enjoyed in pies, preserves and wine. Works best en masse. Grows 4-6' high and wide; smaller 'Pawnee Buttes' grows to 3' high. Prefers full sun and sandy soil with good drainage.
White wild indigo, Baptisia lactea (B. alba), is perhaps the most architectural of prairie plants, with bundles of smooth, regal stalks that rise up and fan out into elegant stems with velvety foliage. Snow-white flowers on ink-blue spikes in June; black seedpods add winter intrigue. Nice in a border or as a specimen plant. Grows 3-4' high and 2' wide. B. australis blooms azure blue and B. minor stays under 3'. Prefers good drainage and full or part sun; tolerates clay and drought.
Fox sedge, Carex vulpinoidea, has glossy, vivid green foliage that emerges early in spring and persists into late fall. Soft, wispy blades and a fountain form offer refined structure and texture. Deep roots filter water pollutants and improve the soil. Great among flowers and in rain gardens. Grows 1-3' high and 1-2' wide in full sun to part shade and tolerates heavy clay. It prefers consistently moist soil but C. brevior is an alternative for drier conditions.
American hazelnut, Corylus americana. This handsome, adaptable shrub produces edible nuts (two plants required for nut production) encased in a peculiar, ruffled wrapper and relished by birds and other wildlife. Leaves turn orange, yellow and red in fall. Makes an excellent specimen or screen along borders and background plantings. Grows 6-8' high and wide. Prefers part shade and protection from wind and tolerates sun, drought and clay.
Blue grama, Bouteloua gracilis, has grey-green foliage that is soft and fine, curling happily beneath eyelash seedheads that shine in the summer sun and remain as winter interest. A shortgrass that serves well as a specimen, en masse or even as a low-input lawn with buffalograss. Grows about 1' high. Extremely drought tolerant; needs full sun and dry, well-drained soil.
Dotted gayfeather, Liatris punctata. Prime time is late summer when this short and stout gayfeather dresses in show-stopper amethyst flower spikes to attract a buzz of butterflies and bees. Pair with complementary blooms like false sunflower for a superb landscape display. Grows 1-2' high and 1' wide in sun and well-drained soil. Extremely drought-tolerant.
Indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans. This statuesque grass brings movement and texture into the garden with its attractive, rustling foliage. In late summer, radiant flower plumes rise from towering, golden wands to waltz with the Nebraska wind. Blue-green blades turn yellow in fall. A fantastic back-of-the-border plant or informal screen. Grows 5' high and 3' wide. Full sun and dry soil keeps it upright.
Shining bluestar, Amsonia illustris, is a superstar of the plant world, exhibiting soft blue flowers in spring and a perfectly mounded form with clean, willowy foliage that burns a fiery yellow in autumn. They serve as fine companions to bold foliage and flowers and polish off any border. Grows 3' high and wide in sun or shade. Tolerates drought but prefers fairly moist soil.
Nebraska Statewide Arboretum is a nonprofit that works toward sustainable home and community landscapes through initiatives in education, public gardens and the environment. Plant and landscape resources at http://arboretum.unl.edu.
Small Fruits Beyond Raspberries and Strawberries
By Vaughn Hammond, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator
The web presentation, Small Fruits Beyond Raspberries and Strawberries, discusses the production of some not so common small fruits grown in Nebraska.
Vaughn spent almost a year in Afghanistan as an advisor teaching government agriculture advisors and farmers about growing fruit. He brings a wealth of practical experience in growing fruits and vegetables, as he and his wife, Beth, currently grow produce in Nebraska City for the local market. Vaughn also is an integral part of the local food industry in Nebraska as he is involved in assisting and advising growers and also serves on the Board of Directors of the Buy Fresh Buy Local organization.
Every experienced grape grower knows that good disease management program is a crucial component of growing high-quality grapes. Early season control is especially important, as flowers and small berries are quite susceptible to powdery mildew, downy mildew, and black rot.
Because cold-hardy grape cultivars are still relatively new, we're still learning about the different cultivars' resistance and susceptibility to the range of grape pathogens. Therefore, one of the objectives of the Northern Grapes Project is to evaluate disease resistance and the cultivars' susceptibility to
copper- and sulfur-based fungicides.
Below is a list of resources that will help you build an effective disease management program.
- Grape Disease Management Basics (and All About Anthracnose) by Wayne Wilcox, Cornell University and Patty McManus, the University of Wisconsin. April 10, 2012 Northern Grapes Project webinar.
- The Disease Management Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together by Dean Volenberg, University of Wisconsin Extension - Door County. June 4, 2013 Northern Grapes News (Vol. 2, Issue 2).
- Grape Disease Control, 2013 by Wayne Wilcox, Cornell University. A rather lengthy document that contains an update and review of how to control grape fungal diseases in the east.
- The 2014 Midwest Small Fruit and Grape Spray Guide. Contains general guidelines to use as you develop your grape spray program. Also has information about fruit grower newsletters, pesticide drift, plant diagnostic lab listings, and much more.
Pruning Fruit Trees
By John Fech, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator
Apple trees: give 'em a prune? If your tree is not looking or feeling regular (ha), it needs a prune. Actually it needs to be pruned, not be given one. Summer pruning of apples and pears is essential in order to keep them productive and discourage foliar diseases.
Start by removing water sprouts that have developed on the main scaffold limbs. These upright branches will never produce fruit and block sunlight and air penetration to the center of the tree. Next, stand back and examine the leader. Remove side branches which may compete with the leader, pruning them to an outward growing branch. Look for branches that are growing closely parallel to each other and remove one of them. Remove sucker branches at the base of the tree to retain vigor in the tree.
You will know you have pruned enough when you can see glimpses of daylight on the other side of the tree. So, give your trees a prune; after all, it's good to be regular...
By John Wilson, UNL Extension Agronomy Educator
Last week, I mowed my lawn... again! It is really growing rapidly with the rain last week and some warmer temperatures. As I was mowing the lawn, I noticed an occasional plant that was a lighter yellowish-green and about two to three inches taller than the surrounding turf. I knew right away that I was going to have to try to control this weed before it got worse.
Yellow nutsedge is a member of the sedge family although it closely resembles a grass. In fact it is frequently called nutgrass or watergrass. It is a common weed in lawns and landscapes, and can often be found in areas with moist soil. Yellow nutsedge is a perennial plant, meaning that the below ground portion of each plant survives the winter and generates new top growth each spring.
When you look at it closely, yellow nutsedge has a unique form and it can easily be distinguished from turf grasses and other grassy weeds. The leaf blades are light green and are "V" shaped with a prominent ridge down the center of the leaf blade. These leaves originate from the base of the plant giving the lower stem a distinctive triangle shape.
The leaf blades always seem to grow faster than the surrounding grass, sticking up above the turf only a few days after mowing. The root system is shallow and fibrous, often producing small nut-like tubers that serve as food storage organs. These small tubers can sprout and form new plants. The plants also spread by rhizomes, or underground stems, which enables it to move rapidly throughout a lawn or landscape.
Controlling yellow nutsedge can be difficult. Pulling the weeds is effective if you are willing to be persistent... especially if you start right away. You will kill new plants by pulling them before June 21. However, if you pull a plant that is a year older or more, the small tubers that already formed will sprout and it looks like the problem is as bad or worse than when you started.
But don't give up... these new plants can be controlled if you pull them within a week or two after emergence because they haven't formed new tubers yet. However, if new plants are allowed to mature and develop tubers before being pulled, then hand pulling will not provide adequate control.
In areas with heavy yellow nutsedge infestation, chemical control may provide the only viable option. Common grass and broadleaf herbicides will not control yellow nutsedge. Specialized herbicides for controlling sedges must be used.
The most effective herbicide currently available for yellow nutsedge control is Sedgehammer. Two or more application of herbicide will normally be needed to provide control. Read and follow the label directions for successful control of yellow nutsedge.
When applying herbicides, avoid mowing about three days before and after treatment. To ensure adequate herbicide absorption, do not water the lawn for at least 24 hours after product application. Applications should ideally be initiated in June when the nutsedge is young, actively growing, and is most sensitive to herbicidal control. Once this weed matures, control is difficult regardless of the treatment schedule.
By Natalia Bjorklund, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word 'pollinator?' Bees? If that's the case, you're certainly right. Bees do make up a majority of pollinators of crops in Nebraska, but beetles, flies, butterflies and moths all play an important role in pollination as well. Over 95 crops in the United States rely on insect pollinators to produce seed and fruit - 95! Tomatoes, peaches, apples, grapes and pumpkins are just a few of the crops you might be growing in your garden that require insect pollination to set fruit.
The honeybee might be the most recognizable bee, but is native to Europe, and parts of Asia and Africa. Over 4,000 bee species are native to North America. Bumblebees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, and sweat bees are a few important native pollinators. Many of these bees are solitary, unlike the very social honeybees. They are often very docile because they don't have a large hive to protect.
Gardeners are often interested in how to encourage pollinators to visit their property. After all, what good is a tomato plant with no tomatoes? Other gardeners are just interested in seeing these pollinators when they are out and about their landscape. Whichever your motive, the actions to take are the same.
Apply pesticides only when necessary. Many of the popular insecticides used for such pests as Japanese beetle, are highly toxic to beneficial insects, such as bees. Always read the label before purchasing any chemical, and follow the application instructions.
Pollinators of any kind need flowers that provide nectar and/or pollen. Pollen is almost entirely a protein source for insects, while nectar is a carbohydrate. Planting a diverse group of flowering plants ensures a diverse group of insects will visit. Different insects also have different ways of feeding - for example, a bumblebee has a very long tongue, which enables it to feed on the nectar of flowers with long, tubular shaped petals. Other bees or insects which have shorter tongues, will feed at other flowers where the pollen and/or nectar is more accessible to them.
Diversity of bloom time is equally important. Many different plants will bloom in June, July and even August, but on a warm spring day in March, the number of blooming plants is far less. Incorporate early blooming plants, including trees such as maples, as well as those that are fall bloomers to offer pollinators food and habitat year round. Many weeds, such as henbit, are important food sources during early spring. Try to leave some areas of your landscape a bit 'wild,' and pollinators will be drawn to those early spring food sources that many weeds provide.