This summer we have been watching our Bee & Butterfly Habitat plantings in their second year. For those of you preparing bees for winter we are pleased to report that BBHF plots look great! Even this late in the year, beekeepers know how much value late season forage adds for overwintering success!
When I walk a plot of flowers, it never fails to amaze me how many insects only become visible when I stand still and rest my eyes on a blooming plant. Hundreds of insects can appear in the moments I become still and the only motion is these small creatures! One species amongst the flowers that is not easily missed this year is the Painted Lady Butterfly. Often mistaken for a monarch butterfly, this species has booming populations this year. We don’t know why, and our friends at the Prairie Ecologist provide some good information here, but events like this will blow your mind if you let them! Perhaps you have considered how amazing it is that a honey bee can fly 5-10 miles if she has to, and still return to the right hole in the wall! But Monarch Butterflies cover 3,000 miles, and it takes them 4 generations to complete their migration process to the mountains in Mexico. Painted Ladies are also migratory. The ones we see are reliant on habitats in Central and South America. Amazingly, the ones in the UK make a journey over 9,000 miles!
It is with great pleasure that I marvel at these creatures, and with great enthusiasm that we work to replace their lost habitat. It’s not just for honey bees, but for the painted ladies, the monarchs, the bumble bees and myriad pollinators who need these blooming meadows! Feast your eyes on a few seconds of video of Painted Ladies and others on Anise Hyssop in a BBHF planting. It’s like a massage for your eyes. Now that’s good habitat!
Executive Director, Project Apis m.