By Betty Struckhoff
Sarah Stein’s wonderful book, Noah’s Garden, is a must-read for anyone interested in native landscaping. One of her suggestions for suburban yards is to create hedgerows of native plants near the back property lines. Once neighbors pick up the idea, a connected series of these yards can form the kind of wildlife corridor that helps native fauna thrive and reproduce.
Alas, in my little corner of suburbia the neighbors don’t seem to be catching on — yet. Their lives are not focused on the outdoors; they are happy to have a landscape service mow and weed whack once a week so they don’t have to think about it.
Greg Hass has about 4,000,000 trees to sell. Greg, of course, is the Supervisor of the George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking, Missouri. He is presently trying to retire. The difficulty is finding someone who can replace him. Interested in the job? You would only have to know how to purchase, store, germinate, grow, harvest, store, and ship the 70 species of trees and shrubs now raised and sold by the Nursery. Also, you would have to supervise 38 to 40 employees, maintain a variety of exotic equipment and buildings, as well as deal with Missouri’s erratic weather, marauding squirrels, deer, etc. and flooding streams. There is presently a prospective manager beginning to train for the job, but if he doesn’t work out, you might want to update your resume.
How many birds can you name (common names are fine)? 20? 50? 100? All 350 described in the Birds of Missouri? What about butterflies? There are 324 species of butterflies in Butterflies and Moths of Missouri, but of course that only scratches the surface of butterfly species and only names a few prominent moths. Now for the big question. As a wildflower grower you are certainly aware that bees are the primary pollinators. How many can you name? Honeybees – good. Bumblebees – whoops, not valid – there are 10 species of bumblebees in Missouri. Sweat bees? Nope there are many species of them also. Yellow Jackets? Not even bees; they are wasps.
Bumblebees are the only bees native to the US that are truly social. They live in colonies, share the work, and have multiple, overlapping generations throughout the spring, summer, and fall. However, unlike the non-native, European honeybees, the bumble bee colony is seasonal. At the end of the summer only the fertilized queens survive to hibernate through the winter. In the spring, she will found a new nest that eventually may grow to include dozens of individuals (occasionally a couple of hundred).