Blog

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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Without buzz pollination, we wouldn’t have blueberries

Photo of a rusty-patched bumblebee

Most of the time bees can access pollen pretty easily on the anther of a flower, like in the video above; it is passively released by the flower and coats the hairs of pollinators that come to the flower to drink its nectar and gather its pollen. However, about eight percent of flowering plants have…

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Native Bees: Gentle and buzz-worthy

Photo of calliopsis bee

The mining bees in the Andrenidae family are incredibly gentle bees. According to “Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide” by Heather Holm, a park in Minneapolis is the home to thousands of Andrena nests each year, but most people have no idea that they are walking right over them. These bees are solitary…

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Native bees: These bees plastic-wrap their brood cells

Photo of colletes validus

Do you love blueberries? Then you should love the genus Colletes of native bees! These are one of several types of native bees that collect pollen from both highbush and lowbush blueberry flowers. Colletes validus has an elongated, narrow head that helps it fit into the tight flower opening where it eats nectar and collects pollen that will be transferred…

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