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Re: Fw: Re: Fw: Re: [beemonitoring] Bee Lawn Mix Thought

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  • Peter Bernhardt
    Dear Mr. Guevara: We are all concerned about the homogenization of the American landscape. However, homogenization of the domesticated flora is limited to the
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 10, 2009
      Dear Mr. Guevara:

      We are all concerned about the homogenization of the American landscape.  However, homogenization of 
      the domesticated flora is limited to the simple fact that the United States is a large country and subdivides into 10 or 12 "growing zones."  You can see maps of these zones on various websites and on the back of seed packets produced by a least one of the major companies.  A "universal" bee-lawn mix servicing, say, private or public properties from Michigan to Louisiana is currently beyond the genetic scope of the American Horticultural Industry, so stop worrying about it.  If we just stick to grass seed you will find that your local hardware store or commercial nursery sells you mixes adjusted specifically to your growing zone.  It's easy to homogenize the density diversity of vegetation within a mall from Los Angeles to Atlanta.  Doing the same thing with the same lawn mix over the same area, across three or four growing zones, will not yield the same results.

      That's why I suggested reviewing older, tested, European practices for introducing bee-nourishing flora to tracts of grass.  You must be familiar with the work of the late British entomologist and naturalist, Miriam Rothschild, for example.  Towards the end of her life she became a big advocate for introducing appropriate flowering plants to lawns, verges, roadsides etc.  She missed the wildflowers of her youth but also wanted more food plants for her favorite Lepidoptera. Based on the literature, and limited personal observation, it's my opinion that the British, Swiss, Belgians and, yes, even the Israelis may be way ahead of us on this the subject of integrating forbs into artificial grasslands. 

      The problem is not a matter of increasing diversity in American lawns.  The problem is what do we introduce?  Low growing, native American species on the front lawn are one thing because their growth is curtailed by local climate, predators and pathogens (natural selection at work).  Mixing seeds or bulbs of species from other parts of the world can be disastrous, unleashing plants that suppress or destroy other plants or even poisoning livestock and some unwary children.  There's plenty of literature on the subject but you might want to read what I have to say about the genera Adonis, Centranthus, Romulea etc. in my most recent book, "Gods and Goddesses in the Garden," (2008, Rutgers U. Press).  

      Sincerely, Peter Bernhardt    
      On Mon, Feb 9, 2009 at 8:58 PM, Charles Guevara <icecilliate123@...> wrote:

      --- On Sat, 2/7/09, Charles Guevara <icecilliate123@...> wrote:
      From: Charles Guevara <icecilliate123@...>
      Subject: Re: Fw: Re: [beemonitoring] Bee Lawn Mix Thought
      To: "Peter Bernhardt" <bernhap2@...>
      Cc: sdroege@...
      Date: Saturday, February 7, 2009, 4:03 PM

         Hello Peter, and thank you for your thoughts.  I have great respect for Sam Droege, and I benefit greatly from the content of Sams forum.  Municipal bugets generate the best returns on educational/community based environmental programs.  Commercial bagged seed/commercial products do not have a regional sensitivity so much as a 'growing season/sunligh and precipitation formulation'.  Based upon the skill of a municipalities purchase agent(or indifference to regionality 'bee-mix blend')...you may be spreading a generic/near monoculture assemblage of 'pollinator friendly plants'....to areas far from native plant occurrances.  But this 'roadside sprawl' of an off the shelf 'bee-mix', this for me is not the main concern.  It's the commercial comodification of a bagged seed-mix fomulation...which wellintentioned municipalities might spread to the detriment of regional assemblages.  I just think of how malls my son and I dwell within for an hour or more sometimes, wether in Binghamton,NY...or in Middletown,NY, or in Paramus,NJ...with your eyes closed..they smell the same, the sounds are the same, the temps/humidity feel the same...open eyed...the total experience is the same, Peter!!  I am very concerned with an ever expanding 'homogination' of our open spaces.
         Sorry my cryptic (inside baseball?) comment on leading scientists being:'neutral' on 'crop harvesting praire lands in US.  I was(I am still) dismayed that in the forum(a very important forum indeed)...in the forum only a few months ago, a visitor announced this praire cropping/harvesting being planned .  She solicited various pollinator survey/collection/protocols she might implement...'to get data showing('no harm to pollinators' I'm sure is what she NEEDS TO FIND!!') harvest effects on pollinators'.
         Not one response gave this visitor caution on this sort of 'praire harvesting for crop usage'.
         The most recent Farm Bill has pollinator protection chapters.  And here we parallel that policy with'pilot studies to harvest praire lands!  Again, thank you for your thoughtful comments, Peter.  I really should expand on my remark of:'nesting educational components/community resource bugets in pollinator policy (exactly the good work Sam does!)....but hey, I have chores to do!  Warmly (will be '40's here in NJ/NY this Saturday)
         charles e guevara

      --- On Fri, 2/6/09, Peter Bernhardt <bernhap2@...> wrote:
      From: Peter Bernhardt <bernhap2@...>
      Subject: Re: Fw: Re: [beemonitoring] Bee Lawn Mix Thought
      To: icecilliate123@...
      Cc: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Friday, February 6, 2009, 2:56 PM

      Dear Charles:

      We'd all like to have this forum fit our personal interests because we all think our interests are pivotal to protecting pollinators.  Consequently, Dr. Droege is entitled to express his concerns on bees in lawn floras.  Surely, this doesn't subtract from the time or effort you could put into sending messages to us expanding on your own concerns.  

      "Stressed islands" are important because they can become centers of evolution and/or refugia.  That's why we are celebrating the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin this year.  As a case in point, ten years ago we had a warm winter in St. Louis and my Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) bloomed in November.  I collected some chilled bees in the nectar cups of the flower and sent them to Dr. Michener.  The blue, hairy Lasioglossum turned out to be one of the least commonly collected species in North America and here it was in a wooded, suburban backyard outside a small, midwestern city.  If you don't believe me please write Dr. Michener (who made the identification).  

      Who said we were neutral on prairie surveys of pollinators?  Please check out my past papers on the pollination of prairie populations of Oxalis violacea and Schrankia nuttallii (both in Plant Systematics & Evolution).  I'll make everyone's life easier and attach a not quite up-to-date list of my publications.  If we weren't serious about prairie surveys why did the Bernhardt/Meier lab just submit a $60,000 proposal to the Missouri Department of Conservation on the pollination of Asclepias meadii?  By the way, in my professional opinion, mere surveys are pretty worthless unless you co-reference the identified insect with the pollen they carry.  Recording the flower species on which it is captured is insufficient.  As most bees are polylectic, pollen load analyses give you critical information about the specimen's foraging bout before you interrupted it with your net and killing jar.  Don't worry, the techniques and protocols are in my publications.

      Sincerely, Peter Bernhardt 

      On Thu, Feb 5, 2009 at 10:07 PM, Charles Guevara <icecilliate123@...> wrote:

      --- On Thu, 2/5/09, Charles Guevara <icecilliate123@...> wrote:
      From: Charles Guevara <icecilliate123@...>
      Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] Bee Lawn Mix Thought
      To: "Sam Droege" <sdroege@...>
      Date: Thursday, February 5, 2009, 3:39 AM

         Hi Sam, in keeping with an 'overall context', we should continue to talk about(raise awareness of), we should continue to think/share ideas (collective synergistic brainstorming) , we should continue to bolster BIO-CORIDORS concept regarding pollinators and their assemblage communities.
         Lawn-Mix totally distracts from sustainable regional habitats, 'key-stone' organisms, 'indicator-organisms', chemical applications totally are 'tone-deaf', and perhaps harmful to need for susstaining(even as we limply fund understanding of regional biomes) endemic pollinator assemblages.
         Just as this great 'list-serve/forum of highly educated academic biologists stand 'deafeningly neutral' on :'Prarie surveys of pollinators prior to literally FARMING/HARVESTING praire beleaugered natural habitats, for cellulosic crop harvest.',...
      this deeply knowledgible forum should first 'enhance the sustainable-big picture context' ( biocoridors rather than ridiculously small and stressed islands of natural space...suplemented with a chemical:'Bee Lawn Mix'.).
         charlie guevara, NJ,US

      --- On Wed, 2/4/09, Sam Droege <sdroege@...> wrote:
      From: Sam Droege <sdroege@...>
      Subject: [beemonitoring] Bee Lawn Mix Thought
      To: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, February 4, 2009, 6:46 PM


      From what I have seen of the urban pollination/pollinator world, the concentration of research, advice, and management has focused on flowering plants, both in remnant parkland and in garden plots.  All good.  Bees are found in surprising places and easily surpass butterflies in abundance and kinds.  But.  Places that are gardenable and convertible are limited, particularly compared to paved areas and lawns.   Paved areas are of limited use for pollinators, of course, but lawns, while ignored by the average bee urbanite, are not.   We have sampled lawns on the National Mall and elsewhere and found bees in abundance.  What are they doing there?  I think it has a lot to do with  prostrate flowers such as clover, purslane, and spurge plus the quick bloomers such as dandelions and plantains.  

      What if someone would develop a bee lawn seed mix?  

      Wouldn't that potentially have a higher impact on the number and kinds of bees in urban areas than the high effort, high cost, high maintenance (but, yes, very pretty) pollinator garden?  Particularly if most people don't want to go to the effort?

      What if highway departments seeded with a bee roadside mix that didn't require them to NOT mow or to treat any different than they do now....wouldn't that be an even greater impact than the few places where people tolerate weedy looking native plant plots and can afford the planting and upkeep?


      Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705


      Watching hands transplanting,
      Turning and tamping,
      Lifting the young plants with two fingers,
      Sifting in a palm-full of fresh loam,--
      One swift movement,--
      Then plumping in the bunched roots,
      A single twist of the thumbs, a tamping and turning,
      All in one,
      Quick on the wooden bench,
      A shaking down, while the stem stays straight,
      Once, twice, and a faint third thump,--
      Into the flat-box it goes,
      Ready for the long days under the sloped glass:

      The sun warming the fine loam,
      The young horns winding and unwinding,
      Creaking their thin spines,
      The underleaves, the smallest buds
      Breaking into nakedness,
      The blossoms extending
      Out into the sweet air,
      The whole flower extending outward,
      Stretching and reaching.

          - Theodore Roethke
      P Please don't print this e-mail unless really needed.

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