See what all the buzz is about in our Weekly Videos!
#Bee ready to find out what all the buzz is about during this 15-part virtual weekly series, courtesy of the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment! While we are currently closed to the public, we invite you to join us on Saturdays for informative, entertaining tours and talks from our Pollinator Exhibit! Tune in every week to find out how you can “bee” a pollinator-friendly neighbor!
Episode 15: Easy Tips for Helping Pollinators Near You!
All this season, we’ve had the chance to share amazing pollinator stories with you, but now we need your help in return! Como Park Zoo and Conservatory can’t save pollinators without you! Here are some ways YOU can be all the buzz in the pollinator community near you!
Getting ready to prepare for the fall season in your backyard? Take it easy on the clean-up and you’ll help pollinators without doing extra work. THIS ARTICLE shows how we’re giving you an excuse to do less yardwork for a good cause! Win-win in my book!
Thinking about what to plant and how to manage your lawn next growing season? Consider THESE pollinator-friendly plants, or even planting with native plants which can be found at many greenhouses and local nurseries (or even look into PRAIRIE RESTORATION on your own or with the help of CONSERVATION ORGANIZATIONS), or even consider planting a BEE LAWN – grants are available to help you promote protected pollinators!
Get everyone involved! Make it a fun project to connect with family members, students, and more to plant and prepare a pollinator garden for the future by taking part in the MILLION POLLINATOR GARDEN CHALLENGE! There are lots of great resources, from entertaining educational resources like THE MAGIC SCHOOLBUS INSIDE A BEEHIVE, reading materials such as “Bea’s Bees” by Katherine Pryor, and even information to incorporate into a LESSON PLAN – if we all learn the value of pollinators, we can all take little actions – and together, those little actions can make a big difference.
So get out there, explore, and protect our pollinators and become the BEES KNEES!
Episode 14: Minnesota’s Endangered Pollinators
On this week’s episode we’re going to bring our worldwide tour of the weird and wonderful world of pollination to our own backyard. Learn about local pollinators and blooms that need your help, today!
Looking to learn more about these plants and animals and how YOU can help? There’s A LOT to learn, and even more each of us can do to contribute in small but meaningful ways in our own neighborhoods!
If you would like to learn more about floral conservation, you can read more about the Western Fringed Prairie Orchid HERE, or about Minnesota prairie conservation, in general, HERE! You can even go HERE to learn more about the Leedy’s Roseroot, a plant that is a relic of the Ice Age with only four known populations in the U.S. – and we have one here!
Want to help our beloved STATE BEE? This IUCN Red List Critically Endangered insect needs help from us here in the Twin Cities and beyond!
If you’re an instructor at school, home, or just eager to share pollinator knowledge, there are some excellent curriculum resources at the POLLINATOR PARTNERSHIP. Check it out, and share the knowledge, today! Track the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee on THIS MAP and then get outside! Confirm bee identities using THIS HANDY GUIDE, and report your sightings, HERE! Then, encourage bees to visit your neighborhood with LAWNS TO LEGUMES INITIATIVE – a grant that helps you plant bee-friendly yards (bonus – they are more sustainable and easier to maintain – that’s sweeter than honey!).
Click HERE for some additional reading about our special and sometimes rare pollinators!
Episode 13: Orchids
Sculptural petals, countless and colorful patterns, and brimming with incredible fragrances, orchids have captured the interest of humans for some time. But they’ve been enthralling pollinators for even longer! Find out how these beautiful blooms cooperate with, and sometimes trick, pollinators in this episode of Como’s Virtual Buzz. To help your mind blossom as well, check out some of these cool resources, such as the NOVA documentary, the ORCHID HUNTER! Of course, the beauty of orchids can be a blessing and a curse, as these hunts for coveted blooms has pushed many populations to the brink, as shown in THIS National Geographic piece. Scientists are always learning cool new things, such as the fairly recent confirmation of the GHOST ORCHID’S POLLINATOR. And, want to let your creativity bloom, too? Try your hand at making some orchids that never need water or sunlight – they’re made from paper! See the full tutorial, HERE!
Click HERE for some additional reading about how to cultivate orchids, and how orchids have been cultivated their own place in our culture!
Episode 12: Stop and Smell the…Rotting Meat?
On this week’s episode we’re going to learn about the reason for different fragrances in flowers, especially those that don’t smell as sweet. What could smelling like rotting meat do to help encourage pollinators? Join us to find out (don’t worry, your screen isn’t scratch and sniff!). Click HERE for your own scent and pollinator matching game, courtesy of the Chicago Botanical Gardens. Want to explore olfaction in more detail?
Click HERE to try exploring smell, taste, and our brains at home (if you don’t have one of these ingredients in your cupboard, try other safe food items, instead!). I recommend trying to see if you can recognize potato, apple, and onion by taste alone (plug your nose and try, yourself!), or even try to compare how smelling a food or smelling different foods (smelling oranges while eating an apple) can impact your perception. For those with even younger scientists, see if they can identify smells they do and don’t like, and encourage them to notice the world around them with all their senses!
And don’t forget to check out THIS LINK for more cool information about blooming Corpse Flowers at other public gardens around the U.S. and the articles they’ve inspired!
Click HERE for some excellent reading to learn more about aromatic blooms and other botanical oddities!
Episode 11: Water Lilies
Serenely floating on the surface, these beautiful blooms have a complicated pollination story! Join us as we explore the stories of water lily and lotus pollination, including the Victoria Water Platter on Como’s Virtual Buzz! Want to learn more about Victorias and their dramatic blooms? Check out VICTORIA THE SEDUCTRESS by Thomaz Anisko. Want to explore local aquatic flora? Hop over to the MINNESOTA DNR’S page to see the range of local flora, and look for a lake near you – just be sure to respect the local flowers and look with your eyes, not your hands! Want to plant your own water garden? MINNESOTA WATER GARDEN SOCIETY is here to help you out! Lastly, we can all make a difference for water lilies and aquatic ecosystems through everyday actions, including REDUCING OUR POLLUTION and PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF INVASIVE SPECIES. If we all do our part, our beautiful water lilies and their homes will be around for all of us to enjoy for years to come!
Episode 10: Hive Mind
They may be all bees, but they would be straight “A” students! Find out how bees use math to navigate, are physics experts with their super-vision, and are geography whizzes with their navigation skills in this episode of Como’s Virtual Buzz! Want to learn more? Check out these cool resources, below!
- Click HERE for your very own WHAT A BEE SEES activity.
- Want to watch bees communicate? Check out this BBC CLIP of a waggle dance in action!
- Did you know scientists have even trained a bee to “play fetch”? Check it out, HERE! You can also see the bee-havior in action in this VIDEO!
- Eager to share more about bee cognition and navigation as a teacher? Check out THIS cool resource, courtesy of NOVA, to share with students grades 6-12!
- Want to try your own hand at bee communication? Older kids and adults can test their skills in the BEE DANCE ACTIVITY. This WAGGLE DANCE activity is a great fit for younger kids, and can be modified to fit wherever you are!
- Photographers, want to your own way to explore UV photography? Check out THIS amazing work for some inspiration and recommended kit!
Episode 9: Go FIG-ure! Fig Pollination
Some stories of pollination are far more complex than what we initially learned about the stories of pollination. On this week’s episode, we’ll explore the drama between figs, their pollinators, and how each party is out to get the best for themselves! Click HERE to find out more about how conserving figs can conserve biodiversity on a larger scale!
To find out more about how figs are connected to our culture and their environment, check out the book “Gods, Wasps, and Stranglers: The Secret History and Redemptive Future of Fig Trees” by Mike Shanahan.
Looking to experience figs up-close? Try a FIG RECIPE at home or come and visit our three fig species in the North Garden by making an appointment to visit the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, today!
Episode 8: Vanilla and the Value of Pollinators
On this week’s episode we’re going to learn the value of pollinators to the food we eat, staring the Vanilla Orchids of the North Garden of Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Vanilla is one of the world’s most expensive spices, and today we will find out why, and what could happen if other plants need pollinated this way.
Looking to learn more? Click HERE for some resources to learn more about Vanilla!
Episode 7: Meet Our Pollinators!
On this week’s episode we’re going to learn about the adaptations and unique role of our bee species residing in the Pollinator Exhibit. We will learn about how bees help us, and how we can help them, including making your very own pollinator house. Click HERE for instructions on how to build a home fit for a queen (bee, that is)! Our example was larger and used toilet paper tubes to keep the rolls of paper in manageable groups but use the containers you have and “bee” creative! Hoping to up your pollinator housing game? Check out THESE DIY recommendations for encouraging bees in a safe and healthy manner (remember, bee houses need cleaned every year!). Looking to go further and buy a fancy bee house? HERE are some excellent resources for the house that’s right for you!
Click HERE for some excellent books to learn more about bees!
Episode 6: Cacao’s Pollination Story
On this week’s episode we’re exploring the relationship of cacao with its pollinators. Also exploring how helping both pollinators and people can help both the communities growing cacao as well as the long-term success of growing and producing chocolate. If you are looking to help further, click HERE for a quick guide to selecting sustainable and ethical chocolate! Looking for some specific brands? Look for some of THESE when searching for a sweet treat!
Seeking additional reading? Click HERE for more resources!
Episode 5: The Complicated Pollination of Carnivorous Plants
Using insect pollinators has its own set of challenges, and the challenge of attracting pollinators to visit your flower and pollinate for you are complicated when you also rely on attracting insects to consume for the nutrients you need. On this week’s episode we’re going to learn about how carnivorous plants meet their need to feed without eating their pollinators! To explore local carnivorous plants, click HERE for a brief Minnesota guide! If you are looking to get more actively involved in carnivorous plants, consider a trip to BIG BOG STATE RECREATION AREA where you can see examples in their native habitat, or a membership in the UPPER MIDWEST CARNIVOROUS PLANT SOCIETY to even cultivate your own!
Click HERE for some excellent books to learn more about carnivorous plants
Episode 4: Unusual Pollinators – The Good, the Weird, and the Weirder
When we think of pollinators, we often imagine bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, but pollinators can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes! Take a tour or the strange and spectacular pollinators and the plants they have formed relationships with during this week’s episode and go beyond Bumblebees and butterflies! Put your pollinator knowledge to the test with Nova’s PICK THE POLLINATOR game! Then, get creative with our CREATIVIBEE challenge. Fill in the prompts about your animal and flower, then draw them! You can be as creative or silly as your imagination wants to be! Share your results using the hashtag #CreativiBEE
Click HERE for some excellent books to learn more about unusual pollinators!
Episode 3: Cultivating Pollinator Gardens
This week we’re getting our green thumbs in gear with a conversation about how we cultivate and care for our own pollinator plants. Get gardening tips and recommendations for large and small spaces on how we can all make a positive impact for our local pollinator populations in our own homes! Want to encourage pollinators to visit? Big or small, any plantings help! You can make a POLLINATOR GARDEN, or even turn some or all of your yard into a BEE LAWN! You can incorporate POLLINATOR-FRIENDLY PLANTS into your garden beds, or community garden! You can even plant some pollinator-friendly plants, such as Echinacea, Bee Balm, or OTHER PLANTS in a container on a balcony or porch and give pollinators a reason to buzz by and visit! Looking for a place to buy your plants? Check for plant sales at Garden Safari Gifts with us (supplies limited) or look for a great NURSERY or LANDSCAPER near you.
Click HERE for some excellent books to learn more about gardening, pollinators, and how we can all take part!
Episode 2: Cool Facts About Pollinators..Did you know….?
On this week’s episode we’re going to learn about the important role animals play in pollination for many plants, how plants can encourage preferred pollinators, and what kind of pollinators you can find in your backyard! Click HERE for your very own PASS THE POLLEN activity to try at home!
Click HERE for some excellent books to learn more about flowers, pollination, and how plants grow!
Episode 1: Sneak Peak of this Year’s Pollinator Exhibit
This week, take a sneak peak of this year’s Pollinator Exhibit during planting, and learn about the basics behind pollination. When did flowers first appear, how they are put together, and how pollination has helped flowering plants become the most diverse group of land plants! Click HERE for a fun BUILD A FLOWER craft at home!
Click HERE for some excellent books to learn more about flowers, pollination, and how plants grow!
This seasonal exhibit highlights pollinators from all around the world with signage, statues and live bees in an indoor 2,500 square foot greenhouse garden environment filled with pollinator plants. The wide variety of plants come from the world class Marjorie McNeely Conservatory collection and will showcase the different pollinator syndromes, as well as how different flowers attract their own pollinators.
Blue Orchard Mason Bees, Alfalfa Leafcutter Bees and Eastern Bumblebees will be in covered enclosures to observe them through their lifecycles. Over 80% of the plants today rely on bees and other animals for pollination so that they can produce seeds, including one third of crop species. Bees alone are responsible for many commercial crops such as alfalfa, tomatoes, pumpkins, apples, cherries and many more. Como hopes to inspire the public with this exhibit to take notice of the pollinators all around them and see what all the buzz is about when it comes to pollination.