Pollinator Garden opens with a buzz

SEELEY LAKE - The Clearwater Resource Center (CRC) Pollinator Garden opened Saturday, May 28 in front of Lindey's Prime Steak House. Opening activities included talks on beekeeping, native plants and activities for children including a butterfly release to wrap up the day. Planters sponsored by local businesses were filled with a wide variety of native plants with labels naming them all. 

Charles DeVoe of Big Sky Beekeeepers from Missoula opened the afternoon with a Honeybees 101 presentation. Bee breed selection, hive placement and management and bee society were the main topics of discussion. 

"Honey production is an afterthought in beekeeping," said DeVoe. "The value of pollinating is the bees' number one job."

Although the participants in the Beekeeping 101 thought beekeeping looked complicated and tricky, DeVoe said that beekeepers only need to facilitate a good home for the bees. 

"Let the bees be bees," said DeVoe.

Early June is the time that honeybees may swarm, a normal activity when half the bees in a colony go with a queen bee to find a new home. A swarm of bees is usually not defensive or aggressive. If anyone has bee swarming problems, contact DeVoe at 406-239-5245 or email cdevoe2@msn.com and he will come get them. 

Selecting and caring for native plants was the topic of a talk by Master Gardener Jean Pocha from Helmville. 

"Find a wild area that has a similar amount of light and ecosystem as your yard or garden and study the plants that live there," said Pocha. "Then select a variety of native plants that grow in that type of area that will bloom in a staggered schedule throughout the growing season."

Having plants continually blooming will ensure adequate food for the native pollinators. There are many resources available online for plant selection. The Forest Service and Blackfoot Native Plants website have excellent information, stated Pocha.

Families participated in face painting, tile painting and a plant sale. That afternoon at 4 p.m. nearly a dozen Painted Lady butterflies were released. The butterflies had been raised at Seeley Lake Elementary by Pattie Crum's second grade class.

Native plant seed packets were given away through the Missoula Conservation District Pollinator Initiative. If anyone would like a seed packet, please contact Caryn Miske 406-240-3453 or at CRC.

"We're excited to bring the community together for such an important cause," said Amanda Zelnis of CRC."We know how important pollinators are and people can beautify their yards and help the pollinators too."

 

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