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Humble bees create a buzz at Botanical Gardens festival

Posted on May 05, 2014 by Erin Grajek

Buffalo News - City & Region - Sunday - May 3, 2014

With a “waggle-dance” in the hive, honeybees signal to their work mates how to find the flower patch out there that will provide their food.

But who can waggle-dance clearly, or forage for nectar, when drunk on powerful pesticides?

“I think ‘being drunk’ is a good analogy because they are just not as productive,” said Reed M. Johnson, an entomology professor from Ohio State University and a guest of honor – second only to the honeybees themselves – at a special event Saturday at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

For the second year in a row, the Botanical Gardens paid tribute to the sophisticated air force that is crucial to the dinner table. Pollination by honeybees sustains crops of apples, cherries, watermelons, raspberries, onions and especially almonds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture values the more than 90 crops that bees pollinate at $15 billion a year.

Honeybees have been dying off in large numbers. The commercial beekeepers who make their colonies available to farmers noticed a decade ago that bees were abandoning their hives. The phenomenon came to be known as “colony collapse disorder.’’ Suspicion landed on a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids.

Chemically similar to nicotine, neonicotinoids are suspected in bee die-offs in Germany and France, as well. A Harvard University study in 2012 linked bee deaths to one specific and widely used neonicotinoid. A study in the United Kingdom drew similar findings.

Johnson, who is wiry, youthful and loves talking about honeybees, says more scientific study is needed to conclusively link neonicotinoids to colony collapse disorder. But he agrees insecticides are among the threats to bees.

“If they get just a little dose, does that mess up their ability to communicate and to maintain this complex society?” he said. “There’s all sorts of intricate things that are going on in there, and a little bit of insecticide may throw things off.’’

Honeybees face other dangers. Herbicides, for example, suppress an important source of nutrition – flowering weeds. Then there’s the Varroa mite.

Imagine if humans had a rat clinging to their shoulder blades sucking out blood. That’s what Varroa mites are to honeybees, said Gary Piatek, who keeps bees for honey at his Grace Apiaries in Arcade and was at Saturday’s event, which was attended by about 75 people.

“Not only do they suck their blood, they also vector viruses into the hive,” Piatek said of the parasitic relationship between Varroa mites and honeybees. “They weaken the immune system of the whole hive, so consequently the hive is more susceptible to invading viruses. Bees do not have a very strong immune system on their own.’’

The pesticide industry has lashed back at efforts to blame its products for colony collapse disorder: “There is a difference between natural bee loss and the condition referred to as ‘colony collapse disorder,’ the industry group CropLife America says on its website. “CCD is a clearly defined syndrome with specific symptoms, and scientists cannot attribute these losses to any singular cause.’’

Meanwhile, everyone involved in the discussion about honeybees agrees they are invaluable to agriculture and that the world must maintain adequate supplies to pollinate crops. Some commentators have voiced fears that honeybees are the canary in the coal mine, and that other pollinators, such as butterflies, may suffer as well.

Piatek lost about half of his bees this winter, not to Varroa mites or pesticides but to the brutal cold. In milder winters, bees can survive with minimal losses – a testament to their communal nature.

The bees, Piatek said, lock themselves into a tight cluster around the queen in an effort to keep their hive at 70 degrees. As temperatures drop, the cluster tightens. But the bees at the outer reaches are most susceptible to the cold and most likely to die off.

In winter, bees can live for months, because they are not out working from sunup to sundown. In summer, bees survive for around four weeks – until their wings give out. They literally work themselves to death.

The queen’s role is to lay the eggs and keep the colony populated. She mates in flight with the males, who make up just about 5 percent of a colony and have little other role. While the males, or drones, are allowed a mostly sedentary, couch-potato lifestyle, they die after successfully mating once.

The worker bees are females but with undeveloped female parts, Piatek said. The youngest of them clean the hive. At about two weeks they will venture out. The older workers also guard the entrance to the hive.

A queen bee can live up to four years, Piatek said. As she weakens, the other bees sense this and will kill her. Meanwhile, new cells have been created in the hive for a lineup of would-be queens. The first to hatch and sip the special jelly that allows her female parts to develop will kill the eggs in the other queen cells, Piatek said. She then establishes herself as the hive’s egg-laying machine.

Karl von Frisch, an Austrian ethologist who died in 1982, discovered that a bee will dance to provide the location of a patch of flowers. A round dance indicates a closer food source, a waggle dance indicates one more distant. The other bees crowd around to pick up the message.

“They can communicate the distance to a patch of flowers and the direction. And they can kind of rate the source by how vigorously they will do this communication,’’ said Johnson, the associate professor from Ohio State.

“I just think bees are fascinating creatures,” he said.

email: mspina@buffnews.com

Taste of Paradise, the Spring Flower Show and an Easter Egg Hunt Announced at the Botanical Gardens

Posted on March 13, 2014 by Erin Grajek

For Immediate Release

Taste of Paradise, the Spring Flower Show and an Easter Egg Hunt Announced at the Botanical Gardens

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens has an exciting line-up of events to welcome the spring season. Adults can enjoy an escape to the tropics at Taste of Paradise on April 4, families can experience the beautiful array of spring colors and fragrances at the Spring Flower Show from April 5-27, and kids can join the traditional Easter fun at the Easter Egg Hunt on April 19.
Soak in the vibrant colors and tastes of the Gardens at Taste of Paradise on April 4 from 6-9pm. Sip crisp, fresh garden cocktails from ONE ROQ Vodka, enjoy the fresh smells of spring, tastes of herbs, fruits and savory delights and listen to the sounds of tropical fun! Tickets include cocktail samples and delicious tidbits from: Buffalo’s Best, Ilio DiPaolo’s, Lucarelli’s, Obviously Avi Catering, the Old Orchard Inn, Oliver’s, Quaker Bonnet and Salvatore’s. Full drinks will also be available for purchase. Ticket prices are $30 for Garden members, $35 for non-members and all tickets will increase to $40 after March 21. Tickets may be purchased online at www.buffalogardens.com or by calling 827.1584 ext. 204. Taste of Paradise is sponsored by: M&T Bank, ONE ROQ Vodka, Tony Walker & Co., Buffalo Spree Magazine, Local Edge, Star 102.5, Backyard Party Supply, Seagram’s Escapes and Dundee Ale & Lager.

Western New York’s favorite Easter tradition is back! This year the Spring Flower Show will fill the gardens with nearly 10,000 bulbs, including 29 varieties of Narcissus, 4 varieties of Allium, 5 varieties of Crocii, 49 varieties of Tulips, 3 varieties of Grape Hyacinths and 9 varieties of Hyacinths. Yellow Fritillaria or Crown Imperial is one of the showstoppers at this years’ spring show. Giant allium will be another key feature with heights reaching four feet or more, these colorful giants of the garlic family offer distinct, bell-shaped blooms of green and pink. Sicilian Honey Garlic is another Allium that will tower three feet in the Spring Flower Show. These cream and purple pendulous flowers have a sweet, honey-like scent. Unlike other members of the garlic family they have wonderful gray spiraling leaves that complement the spring landscape. Narcissus “Mount Hood” Daffodil is a common beauty and easy-to-grow classic. These brilliant Daffodils grow to 18-24 inches, start off yellow at first, bloom and eventually fade to a pure white. The Spring Flower Show will take place from 10am-5pm daily April 5-27 and admission tickets can be purchased at the door. Prices are $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (55+) and students (13+ with ID), $5 for kids 3-12, free for Garden members and kids under three.

The Spring Flower Show would not be complete without Farmer Brown’s Animals. Baby bunnies, chicks, a lamb, goats, a donkey and more will visit the Gardens daily from 10am-4pm during the Spring Flower Show. The ever-popular Easter Bunny will also visit the Gardens April 12, 13, 18 and 19 from 11am-4pm. The Spring Flower Show is sponsored by: M&T Bank, Buffalo Spree Magazine, Star 102.5 and Wendy’s.

Kids seven and under are invited to participate in the annual Easter Egg Hunt on April 19. Hunters collect eggs in exchange for a great prize bag. The Hunt will begin at 11am and take place outside, so participants are advised to dress accordingly and bring a bag or basket to collect eggs. The Hunt is pre-registration only and sells out every year, so participants are encouraged to register early. The costs are $8 for children/grandchildren of Garden members, $10 for children/grandchildren of non-members, and all prices will increase to $12 after April 1. Registration can be made online at www.buffalogardens.com. Hunters are also admitted free to the Gardens this day to enjoy the indoor scavenger hunt, games, Farmer Brown’s Animals, prizes and more! The Easter Egg Hunt is sponsored by: M&T Bank, Buffalo Spree Magazine, Star 102.5 and Wendy’s.

For more information on these events, visit www.buffalogardens.com. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing appreciation for and knowledge of plant life and its connection to people and cultures through its documented living plant collection, historic conservatory, education, research and exhibits.

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Botanical Gardens Great Plant Sale Pre-Orders Due April 1

Posted on March 11, 2014 by Erin Grajek

For Immediate Release

Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens announces their Great Plant Sale Pre-Order. The Botanical Gardens’ gardeners have chosen a unique list of plants and flowers to be a part of this exclusive sale. There is an impressive selection of new plants this year and orders are due April 1.

No need to go out shopping, the Botanical Gardens’ Great Plant Sale Pre-Order offers a wide variety of plants and flowers that would make a great addition to any garden. Boasting unique and hard to get “hot picks”, interesting and award winning perennials and colorful and hardy annuals, this pre-order is just what any serious or not-so-serious gardener needs.

The Hot Picks are in high demand this year and are available in limited quantities. Hot Picks include a bright yellow sage named Carex ‘Banana Boat’, a new purple Delphinium variety from New Zealand named ‘Lilac Ladies’, a new variety of Dianthus with exciting coral colors ‘Coral Reef’, a new fragrant coneflower named Echinacea ‘Secret Affair’ and a new Heuchera variety chosen for its bright and attractive foliage ‘Dolce Cinnamon Curls’.

Award winning and unique perennials include the easy to grow and wide-spreading pink Achillea ‘Saucy Seduction’, a new deep pink Astilbe named ‘Astary Rose’, a stunning award winning Hemerocallis named ‘Huckleberry Candy’, the versatile Heuchera ‘Venus’, a new variety of Hibiscus named ‘Plum Fantasy’, a multiple award winning premium miniature Hosta named ‘Blue Mouse Ears’, a huge Hosta named ‘Empress Wu’, an intoxicating Iris named ‘Strawberry Fair’, an award winning Lavender named Lavandula ‘French Perfume’, a new variety of Nepeta named ‘Cat’s Meow’ that blooms all summer, an award winning Solomon’s Seal that will give a fresh look to your garden named Polgonatum ‘Variegatum’, an award winning Sedum with color into fall named ‘Mr. Goodbud’ and a once rare and unavailable spiderwort named Tradescantia ‘Bilberry Ice’.

Colorful and hardy annuals include a color mix of Aster ‘Perfection Mix’, a fiery-orange, red and broze Coleus called ‘Festive Dance Mix’, a contrasting Dusty Miller named ‘Silverdust Maritima’, a beautiful and large Marigold named ‘African Vanilla’, a purple and white mix of Petunias named ‘Dreams Waterfall Mix’, an award winning Petunia in shades of yellow named ‘Prism Sunfish’, an award winning and colorful Snapdragon mix named ‘Rocket Mix’, the dependable Statice in a beautiful mix named ‘Fortress Mix’, the unique dwarf Strawflower in a unique mix named ‘Bright Bikinis Mix’ (Dwarf) and red, orange, purple, yellow and pink mix of Zinnia in ‘State Fair’.

Orders can be placed online at www.buffalogardens.com. Plants will not be shipped and orders will be available for pick up at the Botanical Gardens’ Great Plant Sale May 17-18.

For more information visit www.buffalogardens.com. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing appreciation for and knowledge of plant life and its connection to people and cultures through its documented living plant collection, historic conservatory, education, research and exhibits.

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Tree Tours, Science Cafés and a Medicinal Garden Feature at the Botanical Gardens

Posted on March 04, 2014 by Erin Grajek

For Immediate Release

March 3, 2014

Tree Tours, Science Cafés and a Medicinal Garden Feature at the Botanical Gardens

Buffalo, NY – New and exciting educational programs are announced at the Botanical Gardens. Saturday Morning Tree Tours will take place for the first time to explore the variety of tree species surrounding the Gardens. 2014 Science Cafés: Innuendo and Indulge will take an interesting look into the reproduction and uses of plants, and the Medicinal Garden Feature will offer a variety of presentations to highlight Nutrition and Poison Prevention Month.

Get to know some of the many tree species in the South Park Arboretum at our Saturday Morning Tree Tours. Tours will be led by Kristy Blakely, Director of Education and will take place from 9-10:30am on the following dates; March 22, April 12, April 26, May 10, May 31 and June 7. Start locations will be indicated by a Tree Tour sign at various locations on Ring Road in South Park. Each tour will focus on the trees surrounding that particular start location. Attendants are advised to wear comfortable shoes/boots and to prepare to get muddy. The cost is $5 per person, per tour. To purchase tickets, call 827-1584 ext. 291 or go to www.buffalogardens.com.

David Clark kicks off the 2014 Science Cafés with Innuendo: The Strange Sex Lives of Plants on March 25 from 6:30-8pm. Clark highlights the myriad of strange ways plants create more of themselves. You’ll never look at an orchid or a moss the same way again! Grab a few friends and join Blakely at Indulge: Delectable Botanical Luxuries on May 8 from 6:30-8pm on an exciting exploration into plants that pamper! Chocolate, wine, coffee, tea and perfume are just some of the treats we create from the botanical world. Ticket prices for each Science Café are $22 for Garden members and $25 for non-members. The Science Café series will become a regular part of the Garden’s schedule, with a second series titled Illuminate and Investigate, expected Fall of 2014. To purchase tickets, call 827-1584 ext. 291 or go to www.buffalogardens.com.

March is Nutrition and Poison Prevention Month and a special Medicinal Garden Feature will take place at the Gardens on March 22 from 10am-2pm. Activities will include: presentations about the benefits of foods from plants containing health-promoting compounds; botanical displays of edible plants which are good for health; common local plants which may be toxic to humans and pets; education regarding the prevention of accidental ingestion of toxic substances by infants and children in the home. From 10am-12pm, Independent Nursing Care will provide blood pressure screening. The Medicinal Garden is made possible by D’Youville College School of Pharmacy and Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, part of Catholic Health. All activities in the Medicinal Garden are included with Garden admission.

For more information on these events, visit www.buffalogardens.com. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing appreciation for and knowledge of plant life and its connection to people and cultures through its documented living plant collection, historic conservatory, education, research and exhibits.

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Kids’ Activities Announced at the Botanical Gardens!

Posted on March 04, 2014 by Erin Grajek

For Immediate Release

February 27, 2014

Kids’ Activities Announced at the Botanical Gardens!
Buffalo, NY - The Botanical Gardens offers a variety of creative and educational programs for kids. Young visitors are invited to join our Saturday and Sunday Kids Programs in the Wegmans Family Garden. At these interactive programs kids are able to plant, dig, build, observe, dream, explore, touch, smell and listen as they engage in both free play and structured learning. Our Saturday Art Classes for Kids offer another way to unlock a child’s creative potential, and our 2014 Digital Photo Contest is open to kids, teens and adult participants.

Kids of all ages are welcome to attend our Saturday Kids Programs. These fun and educational programs invite kids to explore the wonders of the plant world and the importance of eating healthy. Activities will be held in the Wegmans Family Garden from 11am-1pm and will include Dr. Seuss Day on March 1, Play with your Food on March 8, St. Patrick’s Day Pasta Rainbow on March 15, Poison Prevention on March 22, Bird Feeder and Binoculars on March 29, Cookie Seeds on April 5, Healthy Smoothies on April 12, National Garlic Day on April 19, National Pretzel Day on April 26, Bee Banana on May 3, Mother’s Day Herb Pots on May 10, Spilt Milk on May 17, World Oral Health Day on May 24 and Very Hungry Caterpillar on May 31. All activities are included with paid admission.

Kids have another chance to join the plant-related fun at our Sunday Kids Programs. These hands-on activities will be held in the Wegmans Family Garden from 11am-1pm and will be offered on the following dates; March 23, April 27 and May 25. While activities are best aligned for children ages 4-10, caregivers of our youngest learners are encouraged to assist with creations! All activities are included with paid admission.

Our popular Saturday Art Classes for Kids return for 2014! Allow your kids to express themselves through creativity in art! Taught by Joan Saba, professional artist and teacher, these multi-medium classes are for kids ages 5-15 and will be offered on the following dates; Series KA2 will be held March 1, 8, and 15 and Series KA3 will be held May 10, 24 and 31. Classes will take place from 9-10:30am and costs are as follows; $35 per series or $13 per class for children/grandchildren of Garden members and non-members. A piece of art will be completed at each class. All supplies will be provided.
Youth, teens and adults are encouraged to participate in our 2014 Digital Photo Contest. All photos will be considered for President’s Pick Award and the Cover of the Garden’s Next Newsletter Award. Photos submitted in each age range will be also considered for the following awards: Best Use of Shadows and Light, Most Unusual Vantage Point, Best Use of Color, Most Artistic and Best Use of Macro Photography/Extreme Close-Up. This is a contest for amateur photographers only and photos must be taken at the Gardens (inside or outside) from January 1 – December 31, 2014. All entries must be received by December 31, 2014. First entry is free with each additional entry is $6 for Garden members, and each entry is $8 for non-members.

For more information on these programs and contests visit us at www.buffalogardens.com. The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing appreciation for and knowledge of plant life and its connection to people and cultures through its documented living plant collection, historic conservatory, education, research and exhibits.

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