Pollinator Protection in Dane County

Photo: Rusty Patched Bumble Bee photo by Susan Carpenter

Pollinators are animals that visit flowering plants and transfer pollen from flower to flower, thus aiding plant reproduction. North American pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, flower flies, beetles, hummingbirds, and in some parts of the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, nectar-feeding bats. Bees purposefully collect pollen as a protein source for their offspring, making them very efficient pollinators.

The Dane County Environmental Council in cooperation with UW-Extension has developed a set of resource materials to assist with education about the importance of and how to protect pollinators. These include:  brochure, informational seed packets, a youth “fortune teller” game, and table top (36” x 72”) pollinator display boards.  All can be checked out through the Dane County Natural Resource Education Center.

Pollinator Habitat Assessment Tool

You can help support insect pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, through habitat you provide on your property or in your gardens. Pollinators need shelter and food to thrive, but how do you know if your property is achieving this potential?

To help promote local habitat for pollinators, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Gratton Lab in the Department of Entomology, Dane County UW Extension, and the Dane County Environmental Council have launched a new, free online tool to help you assess any site for the quality of its pollinator habitat. Whether you have a single garden bed, a yard or a multi-acre property, the tool helps you to identify the opportunities you have to support pollinators. The assessment tool is suitable to use for any property throughout Wisconsin and neighboring states.

The Wisconsin Online Pollinator Habitat Assessment is available at www.pollinators.wisc.edu/habitat and takes less than 20 minutes to complete. It’s a simple evaluation designed to be completed on a smartphone or tablet, so you can walk around a garden or property and observe features like how many species of flowers are blooming at different times of year, and what undisturbed nesting habitat is available to insect pollinators. With descriptive photos and links to resources built in to the tool, it’s an educational resource that can be used by anyone, including families with kids.

One of the major reasons for declining populations of bees, butterflies and other pollinators is the loss of food and nesting habitat across our landscapes to sustain them. While doing your assessment of your site, you will learn about the sorts of features on your property that can help pollinators, such as having native flowering plants that bloom, or dead wood and undisturbed ground for pollinators to create their nests. The tool can help you make a quick evaluation what opportunities you have on your particular site to support pollinators.

Educational Resources

Pollinator Protection Brochure   Four color brochure describing the importance of and how to protect local pollinators.  Spanish version.

Pollinator Informational Seed Card    Four color single fold information card that gets inserted with small amount of pollinator seeds into a bag for citizens to take action.  Packet is put together as a youth or adult activity.  Spanish version.

Seed Card Activity Kit   Contains a folded informational card, bowls with pollinator plant seeds, small bags, and Instructions of how to construct the seed informational packet.  All this is in a tote bag that you can check out for youth or adult activity or to make as a stewardship incentive.

Youth Activity – Pollinator Fortune Teller Game    Activity is both coloring and constructing this “fortune teller” game and then playing the game while learning about pollinators.   Spanish version.

Pollinator Word search  Activity developed by the USDA.

Brochure Display Holder  Four color 11′  14′ free standing display on Protecting Dane County Pollinators that contains a holder for approximately 40 brochures.  Comes in 4 designs. One free holder available per organization.

Table Top Educational Display  Portable carrying case, and three panel display board that measures 36′ x 72″.  Set up with photos and text on pollinator protection on both sides of display.  Topics covered include:  what is a pollinator, bees and other pollinators, actions you can take to protect pollinators.  Contains an interactive game on bee and wasp identification based on their characteristics.  Also contains additional materials so that it can be customized to present more on habitat or other related topics. Click to see back side of display.  Can be signed out free of charge for events my contacting Michelle Probst at Probst.Michelle@countyofdane.com along with many other items at the Dane County Natural Resource Education Center

Display Board front

Informational Resources

Dane County Pollinator Protection Report   Final report of the Dane County Pollinator Protection Task Force

State of Wisconsin Pollinator Protection Plan    Contains strategies, background information and resources for farmers, citizens, beekeepers and others.

Citizen Pollinator Monitoring Guide   Developed by Xerces Society

Wisconsin Bee Identification Guide  Developed by UW-Madison Division of Extension

Supporting Native Bees:  Our Essential Pollinators  Eight page publication developed by UW-Madison Division of Extension

Saving Wisconsin’s Native Pollinators  Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Photo:  Honey Bees