by Greene County Master Gardener Coordinator Cheryl Brendel
We hear about the decrease in the number of pollinators everywhere. This year, Penn State Master Gardeners are participating in a “Sentinel Bee Nest Study.” There are 26 counties across Pennsylvania participating. There are two objectives: the first is to look for patterns of wild bee diversity across the state with an emphasis on the comparison of different landscape types, such as cities, farmlands and forests. The second, and no less important, is that we want people to discover the wild bees of their neighborhoods, to learn their names and to become invested in their conservation.
Dave Brendel, Master Gardener, is representing Greene County. The instruction and supplies for building one nest were sent to those counties volunteering to participate. These nests consisted of a 9-inch length of PVC pipe, filled with hollow Phragmites reeds. The nest was attached to a post. Each participant was to place the nest in a specific location, near a 60-inch garden. At the beginning of each month, starting in April, photos are taken and sent to the primary investigator. These photos are close-ups of the open ends of the tubes. If capped, a female bee has completed a nest in it.
Through July, results show that occupancy tends to be all or nothing. Most nests are still empty, but there are a few nests full of bees. Nests in sheltered, shaded areas seem to be more likely to have bees. Our past thinking was to have the nest in an open space.
The study will continue until fall.
We are currently recruiting for our fall Master Gardener Class. If interested, please contact Penn State Extension at 724-627-3745.