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Buzzfest Bee Celebration

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This past weekend my workplace held a Buzzfest Celebration providing an opportunity for visitors to harvest honey with the Beekeeping Master Gardeners and complete crafts and activities with 4H and Environmental Center staff & volunteers. Participants could uncap the frames with a heated knife, pour the honey into jars, take a honey taste test, make native pollinator seed balls, bamboo bundle bee shelters, look at bee and insect parts with a microscope, use bug eyes to experience bug vision, try on a bee suit, build-a-bee, roll a beeswax candle, read all about bees and more.  Prizes like pollinator seed bags were provided when participants had their agenda booklet stamped at four or more activity stations.

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

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Raising Luna Moths

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I raised Luna Moths a member of the Saturniidae family, also known as “Giant Silkworm Moths” as part of an educational display at the Butterfly Tent Safari. The process was the same as when I raised  Polyphemus Moths  except that the Luna Moths ate Sweetgum Tree leaves as their host plant. These Luna moths turned out to be the first of two generations to mate, lay eggs and die.  The second generation will over-winter in a wrapped leaf cocoon.

Luna MothLuna Moth Caterpillar

Luna MothLuna Moth Caterpillar

It is easy to tell a male and a female apart when comparing their antennae. The males have larger bushier more feather like antennae to smell the pheromones of a female to find her for mating. The female has smaller thinner antennae and tends to stay put waiting for the males to sniff her out.

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

 

Butterfly Tent Safari 2015

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Every summer I work with staff and volunteers at the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland, New Jersey to host a Butterfly Tent Safari event.  The aim is to educate guests about butterfly conservation through wonderment that leads to active conservation and enhancement of our own backyard, schoolyard and community habitats. To learn bout hosting your own butterfly tent safari or bugfest event check out “Buzz Into Action, The Insect Curriculum For Grades K-4“.

Below are a few photographs of the program and an article from the Star Ledger that includes photographs of kids within the tent.  As always I’m happy to share information if you have any questions about setting up a similar event.

NJ Families Flock to Butterfly Tent Safari – Star Ledger Article

David Alexander, senior naturalist with Essex County Parks, has been involved with the butterfly event since it started in July 2010. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to get connected with nature,” he said.  According to Alexander, the tent is filled with a variety of nectar plants and host plants and over 50 butterflies.

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

Time to Collect Wildflower Seeds for Pollinators

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It’s time to collect wildflower seeds for our native pollinators.  I mostly use the seeds for seed balls or package them as promotional items to encourage pollinator conservation but they can also be sown and grown under lights or in cold frames to kick start their growth before planned planting.

I like to snap or cut the mature seed heads into a bucket. After letting the ants and other little critters that might be in there crawl out, I transfer the seeds to paper bags or envelopes where they will undergo dehiscence or dry out and split to release their seeds. The paper bag allows air circulation thus preventing mold.  If you plan to hold the seeds into spring and grow them yourself be mindful that some seeds like many milkweeds require cold stratification before germinating and require refrigeration in a mix of horticultural sand and water.

Eco-School students and Green Clubs can collect and package seeds, craft a marketing plan and sell seeds as part of a schoolyard habitat fundraiser!

Citizen Science participants can collect milkweed seeds to send to Monarch Watch for their Bring Back The Monarchs Conservation initiative!

 

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

Buzz Into Action with Pollinator Nest Boxes!

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This spring help improve your habitat for pollinators!

When it comes to our pollinators you often have to accept a few blemishes for beauty in your landscape.  The old twigs and piles of branches that may appear to be untidy are exactly what about 30% of our many native pollinators require for nesting sites (Tunnel Nest Management, Xerces Society).  To help provide shelter and attract our native pollinators to a place where they can bring up babies you can build a nest block.  All it takes is drilling different size holes between 3/32″ and 3/8″ within the preservative free wood block to provide a variety of egg laying sites. The female will build and provision each brood cell with a mixture of pollen and nectar onto which she lays a single egg before sealing the cell.  The offspring metamorphose through egg, larva and pupa before emerging as adults.

For More Information about Building a Nest Block: Download instructions from The Xerces Society.

For more ideas to improve your habitat for pollinators check out the Pollinator Gardens chapter of Buzz Into Action, The Insect Curriculum for Grades K-4.

For a fun science snack try demonstrating the egg laying in a tunnel or tube.  Use celery as the tube, raisins as the eggs,  honey + maple syrup as the nectar and pollen and a dab of peanut butter to divide the cells.

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

Buzz & Hop Into Action – Now Available As E-Book or Bundle!

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Buzz & Hop Into Action – Now Available As E-Book or Bundle!

National Science Teachers Association Press

Butterfly Tent Safari 2013

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For the last week I’ve been working with staff and volunteers at the Essex County Environmental Center in Roseland, New Jersey to host a Butterfly Tent Safari event.  The aim is to educate guests about butterfly conservation through wonderment that leads to active conservation and enhancement of our own backyard, schoolyard and community habitats where butterflies may reside. To learn bout hosting your own butterfly tent safari or bugfest event check out “Buzz Into Action, The Insect Curriculum For Grades K-4“.

Below are a few photographs of the program to share with you all and video.

David Alexander is author of the Buzz Into Action & Hop Into Action Science Curricula.  He specializes in making nature accessible to people and wildlife.  You can follow him at www.natureintoaction.com

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