MASTER GARDENER By Susan E. Johnson
Bumblebees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, leafcutter bees, digger bees - all pollinate many different kinds of plants, thus playing a critical role in both healthy wild plant communities and in gardens. There are nearly 5,000 species of native bees in this country, most all of them solitary and friendly, that nest in holes in the ground or burrows in twigs or dead limbs. Since there is no hive to protect, they are not nearly as aggressive. They pollinate what constitutes up to a third of the plants we consume in our diet. Supplying quality bee habitat in your yard can help increase fruit and vegetable harvests. Bees are particularly drawn to blue and yellow flowers. Use a variety of plants to achieve three seasons of bloom. Bees are drawn to: bee balm, black-eyed Susan, cardinal flower, cosmos, crape myrtle, clovers, goldenrods, milkweeds, mints and sunflowers. Do your part to help our “bee-leaguered” insect friends.
Talk about uniformity: Scientists have discovered that every peat moss plant in a 2,500 mile stretch from Oregon to the Aleutian Islands is genetically identical. It is believed they can be traced back to Russians bringing a parent plant to Alaska in the mid 1700’s.
We aren’t the only junk-food junkies: Studies of animal carcases of “urbanized” animals from the wild reveal that like humans, they too are consuming considerable amounts of foods derived from corn products, particularly corn syrup.
Lastly: I suppose you saw on TV how Chicagoans go green-crazy and temporarily dye the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day. Did you know at one time it was against the law to fly a kite within city limits - that’s not at all in keeping with the city’s nickname: the windy city!