Author: Marion Robertson

Wow, what a day!  We were very proud to be at the 3rd annual RBG Native plant sale.  This year was the biggest – well attended.  We sold out of all the larval butterfly plants.  It is wonderful to see the growing enthusiasm of the public towards protecting our pollinators.  An added new feature to the sale this year was the free lectures being offered at the Rock Gardens center.  We were very happy to present a slide show on local butterflies and their larval plants.  I know not everyone fell asleep, some people actually took notes!

1,000  American Elms still remain in our Ontario landscape, over 100 years old, standing resistant to Dutch Elm disease (DED).  We, at Bee Sweet Nature Co.,  have progeny from these parent trees and are now offering them for reintroduction into the environment.

In 10 years, super resistant DED elm progeny will be available from the University of Guelph elm recovery program.  It is our hope that both natural and super DED elms will be planted together.  Why?  Even though emphasis is on DED we must also consider climate change.  The naturals have a vast genetic base that may offer adaptive abilities to our changing weather.

Even though there was a nip in the air, I was still amazed to see a Red Admiral butterfly float by as we were planting bitternut hickory acorns. It is hard to believe that these migratory butterflies are on the same migration wave as birds. Though everyone flocks to see the birds at Point Peele in the spring, no one seems to see these bright butterflies. Next to the Mourning Cloak, these are one of our earliest butterflies. If you want these beauties in your garden you will have to plant stinging nettle. Yes, this is their larval plant. And please, do not spray – be pollinator-friendly.

When it is damp and cold outside it does not seem possible that spring migration is occurring all around us.  Already, we had our first Turkey Vulture arrive 2 weeks ago and the ponds are filling up with hooded mergansers and bufflehead ducks.  Believe it or not, we are avid birders, not just tree huggers,  and this time of year finds us scrambling to clean and repair our bluebird nesting boxes.  Just in time, our first male bluebird arrived yesterday.  To find out about the possibility of having bluebirds in your neighborhood check out the article on bluebirds.  Happy birding.

We have been busy laying fresh wood shavings in all the nesting duck boxes at Valens and Christie Lakes conservation areas.  It has been a challenging year to get to all the water accessible boxes since the ice has been unpredictable.  Hate to go for a polar swim!  Regardless of whether we are ready or not, the first pair of hooded mergansers have already arrived.  This year, we will be relocating  existing boxes to encourage better nesting results.

We are very proud to be sponsors of the upcoming Guelph Pollination Symposium.  As lifelong beekeepers, we are keen to learn about the circumstances of decline for all pollinators, especially bumblebees.  It will be awesome to be able to participate in the  launching of the Ontario Pollinator Health action plan.  I feel an article coming on since we will want to share all these recommendations with everyone.  Check out our bee and butterfly articles for more information.