Blog

What’s happening in the hive? How a queen develops

Photo of larvae in honeycomb

Where is the queen is probably the No. 1 question that we are asked about the indoor bee hive. You can read a little bit about that here, but the next question often comes up as “What makes a queen bee?” The short answer is, queens are fed royal jelly which makes them different from…

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What’s happening in the hive? There aren’t any drones

Are all the bees in the indoor beehive worker bees? The answer right now is 99.99999 percent of them are. All of the bees in our indoor beehive are female worker bees, except for the queen bee. There is one queen bee in each beehive, but the other 50,000-60,000 bees in the hive are all…

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What’s happening in the hive? Drying down honey

Photo of a honeybee on a flower

A few years ago, we saw a mass of bees collected around the hole that led outside from the indoor bee hive. We thought the bees might be swarming — leaving the hive, which usually occurs when there are two queens raised and one leaves with half the hive — and were nervous that there…

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What’s happening in the hive? Festooning bees

Photo of festooning bees

A few years ago, we saw a clump of bees in the indoor beehive inside Pollinator Paradise at the Dickinson County Nature Center. They were linked together like a chain, hanging on to each other by their feet. Since then, we have seen this happen quite often, and visitors ask us what the crazy honeybees…

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What is a wetland?

Photo of a tundra swan

As Iowa’s landscape changed, so did its wildlife. Some animals were even extirpated (read about that here), but professionals have worked hard to restore some of Iowa’s native areas to increase wildlife habitat, improve water quality and help our pollinators. “Wetlands are being restored in certain areas,” said Iowa Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist…

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Extirpated mammals in Iowa

Photo of a black-tailed prairie dog

After European settlement, osprey were extirpated in Iowa. Many of the wetlands were drained and water quality lowered as the landscape changed, and these fishing birds of prey sought homes in other areas. However, in the early 2000s, after years of concentrated efforts to improve water quality in the Iowa Great Lakes area, osprey returned…

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7 ugly mammals in Iowa

Photo of a plains pocket gopher

Iowa is full of adorable mammals, so many that’s its hard to choose which are the cutest, but the state also has so uggos. Our environmental education coordinator likes to call these mammals non-charismatic, because ugly tends to turn people off. Although perhaps not the most attractive, the following mammals do still have a important…

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Nine adorable Iowa mammals

Photo of a gray fox

Mammals are usually the creatures that garner oohs and aahs when people see them on hikes, in their yards or even in zoos and conservation centers. They’re usually furry and cuddly with adorable eyes. (Some are ugly though — read about them here) Iowa has 57 different common mammal species, and some are charismatic while…

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Five plants to start your pollinator garden

Photo of prairie smoke

You’ve learned that pollinator populations are dwindling and that you can help by planting native species in your garden to provide habitat and food sources. But what do you plant? It can be overwhelming to look at all the options of native flowers that you can put in your garden. It’s even a lot for…

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Six pollinators that aren’t bees or butterflies

Photo of a robber fly on dotted gayfeather

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about native bees, honeybees, butterflies and moths — but did you know that there are plenty of other types of pollinators out there? Hummingbirds Hummingbirds love flowers that are tubular, brightly colored, open during the day and have prolific nectar hidden deeply within. The ruby-throated hummingbird is the…

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