Bee in the Season

I am passionate about celebrating the season and am a lifelong learner and educator.  So, two years ago, while no longer a traditional classroom teacher, I started an Instagram account, ExploreObserveInspire.  As CiteD takes shape, I have renamed it CiteD.  If you are on Instagram or Facebook, you can follow me to Explore Observe and Inspire others.  

ExploreObserveInspire began September 5th 2017, while I was also in training to become a Texas Master Naturalist. Now, more than 2 years later, there are 627 posts. Follow me at CiteDus for short little seasonal musings on nature and family life. It's the season for Monarch migration and pollinators are busy. And as busy as Our schedules tend to be, there are many ways to enjoy the seasonal changes in nature while helping native wildlife. The following are some possibilities to Explore, Observe, and Inspire while learning about native pollinators and "Bee in the Season" this October 2019. What are you doing to 'be' in the season?  

Explore the nectar plants and pollinators in your area. Whether it's your yard, garden, arboretum, or nearby weigh station taking pictures of flowers and the animals that visit them is not only educational, but fun and useful. Many of the State Parks in Texas are taking part in the Texas Pollinator Bioblitz.  No matter what state you reside, you can contribute on your own. Once you download iNaturalist, you can upload and share your findings which are seen by researchers; this makes you a citizen scientist! 

The flowering plants around you are angiosperms. Learning a little about their anatomy makes it more interesting to watch their visitors. My favorite videos can be found on YouTube at The Nectar Bar

The flower is structured to allow for sexual reproduction, enabling diversity of life. The pollen granules are at the end of anther. Pollination happens when the pollen reaches another flower's pistil (female part) and reaches the base ovary to fertilize. Check out some of the tiny fuzzy abdomens that help transport pollen! Remember, many animals are pollinators, not just bees and butterflies!

Mutualistic relationships between the animal pollinator and flower, mean that both the animal and plant benefit; animals get food, and the plant gets fertilized by another flower with different genetics! 

Observe the shape of the flower arrangement and how visitors are able to access nectar, flower color and nectar guides to the nectar reward, position of the pollen granules and size of the pollinator.

Can you measure the size of the flower and it's common pollinators? I had fun with an inexpensive Magnification Macro-lens, that give lots of detail up close. Considering the benefits of a macro-lens versus zoom feature of the camera, I'll stick with zoom for anything that is moving or when I want to see the entire specimen. The Macro-lens bring the very smallest of detail into focus, but you have to be a centimeter or so away!

Inspire

Make the connections with your kids' learning. Pollinator study is a part of the Middle School and High School Biology Curriculum too! Can you talk about 'how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability that they will reproduce successfully?'? 

Feeling crafty? Preserve flowers and use for seasonal documentation and crafts, pick up a paintbrush and make a greeting card, structure and build jewelry that replicates nature's beauty! Can't you picture the tiny pendant that would look like this Passion Flower?

Get into the season and do a photo collage of living things in a seasonal color. I find it relaxing to just stop and 'smell the flowers'. 

Visit a local nursery to see what native nectar and host plants should be in bloom. Planting even one new plant this year will bring pollinators to you next year. Maybe you have a neighbor or friend who is ready to share transplants or seeds!?  Ask on Nextdoor or visit a nearby community garden, you'll be amazed how much gardeners are ready to share. Many of my natives have been transplants or seeds from the nearby garden, it's one of the many perks of volunteering! Here in San Antonio, I look forward to buying the harder to find natives from The Nectar Bar.  

Participate and learn at local events with the experts: Check out The Texas Butterfly Ranch and plan to attend this year's Festival Day at the Pearl.  

Make sure you join our Mailing list as CiteD works to bring resources to get outside and explore to your door.