Saturday, January 9, 2010

Natural Habitats

While making a mid-winter walk-through of one of my bee yards, I stopped to check on some blue orchard bee nesting holes that I had drilled in a dead tree. Some of the holes were sealed off indicating that these native pollinators had used them as nesting areas to raise another generation of bees. High in the tree a downy woodpecker was actively pitching chips of wood out of a small entrance hole as it enlarged a cavity in the dead tree. Downy woodpeckers roost in cavities; and with temperatures well below freezing for a number of days, cavities are important wildlife habitats. While visiting our nature trails, our friend Cissy Stone explained that if dead trees are not endangering people or property they serve nature well if left standing. They also continue to serve even after they eventually fall and decay. This standing tree trunk is now providing habitat for the reproduction of important native pollinators and song birds. Woodpeckers and chickadees create cavities in dead trees, and termites help open the cavities ever further. Swarming honey bees will likely move into the cavities. Squirrels have much greater success raising their young in tree cavities than in exposed nests constructed of leaves and twigs. Once the dead tree finally falls, it will support a number of insects, salamanders, lizards, snakes, and small burrowing mammals until it finally turns into cellulose mulch. Squirrels will plant the seeds of new trees in the enriched soil. Nature gets a lot of use from a dead tree.

Two groups actively fighting to protect honey bees and pollinators, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Xerces Society, have been successful in having a pesticide potentially dangerous to honey bees removed from store shelves. The product carrying the trade names Movento and Ultor had been approved for use by the EPA without considering the consequences of its use on bees. The NRDC can be followed at The Xerces Society can be followed at

No comments:

Post a Comment