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Cash prizes, native bees and tree seedlings

The Jamestown Audubon Society’s Nature Photography Contest offers prizes in three categories and two divisions.

The youth division is for ages 8 to 18 or still in high school and the adult division is for ages 18 and over or post-high school. Youth and adult winners in the categories of landscapes, plants, and wildlife will each receive a $100 cash prize as well as free photo finishing.

“Every winner receives a cash prize,” explained Audubon Center and Sanctuary Program Director Jennifer Schlick, “and being able to enter online makes it a very simple process.”

The entry deadline is June 30. You can see contest details at www.jasphotocontest.com.

Submissions for 2013 have already arrived from Australia, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and across the United States.

Native bees may be important in crop pollination

If you have a crop, such as apple trees, that needs to be pollinated, you can bring in hives of honey bees (Apis mellifera). Farmers have relied on these European imports because, unlike native bees, honey bees can be managed: herded and transported and farmed the way sheep and other animals are farmed.

But there are concerns about honey bees for many reasons, including Colony Collapse Disorder, where many worker bees from a hive suddenly disappear. According to an October 2012 post by the United Stated Department of Agriculture, researchers still don’t know what causes this problem, though research is continuing in a number of directions.

While honey bees are widely viewed as the most important pollinators of crops, native bees may be playing a larger role than we suspected.

According to Professor Bryan N. Danforth and his team at Cornell University, more and more evidence suggests that native bee species contribute significantly to crop pollination. This is especially true in apple orchards where there may be as many as 60 to 80 species of native bees visiting apple blossoms during the bloom period. Many of these native bee species appear to be important pollinators and many apple growers are relying increasingly on native bees for apple pollination.

Surveys by Danforth’s team in the Finger Lakes region indicate that native bees may outnumber honey bees in many orchards. The team is trying to determine what orchard management practices promote native bee abundance and diversity. Many apple growers no longer bring honey bees into their orchards; they are relying increasingly on the naturally occurring native bees for apple pollination.

“We believe that native bees may provide a viable, economically feasible alternative to honey bees for apple pollination,” Danforth said. “This is especially important now that honey bees are in decline in North America.”

You can read more www.danforthlab.entomology.cornell.edu.

Free tree seedlings available to schools; DEC also holding sale

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is offering free tree seedlings to schools, and it is selling tree and shrub seedlings for conservation plantings on private and public lands.

The DEC operates the State Tree Nursery in Saratoga Springs.

Seedlings for schools

Free tree seedlings are available to any school: public, private or parochial; nursery, elementary, secondary, vocational, college or university. Any school-sponsored organization is also eligible.

Spruce and pine are available. Only one species may be ordered, and 50 seedlings of that species will be given to each participating school.

DEC encourages planting on school property so that students can be responsible for the care and protection of the seedlings. Other possible locations for planting are parks, roadsides, public buildings and nursing homes. You will need 1,800 square feet of open space for 50 seedlings. Each tree needs a growing space of about 6 feet in diameter.

For schools where planting space is limited, an Urban Wildlife Packet is available. This contains 30 seedlings of shrubs that attract different songbirds, as well as a variety of other wildlife. These should be planted 6 feet apart and require only 900 square feet of open space.

Get details on the school seedling program at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9393.html.

Seedlings for conservation

You can also buy tree and shrub seedlings for conservation on public or private land. You must purchase the seedlings in quantities of 25 or more. A variety of species is available.

Orders for seedlings can be placed through mid-May by calling (518) 587-1120, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the recommended way to order since the operator will be able to answer questions or direct you to the proper office for information if you need help. You can also order by mail. Get details on the tree seedlings sale at www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9395.html.

Connie Oswald Stofko is publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.

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