The Village of Cross Plains is participating in a one-year No Mow May pilot program. Cross Plains has suspended the enforcement of lawn care rules for the month, allowing property owners to delay mowing in the spring as a way to promote pollinator-friendly habitat early in the growing season.
No Mow May helps to highlight the importance of pollinators for the environment and food crops in the presence of a global insect decline. Early season flowers provide nectar for emerging pollinators (bees, butterflies) when resources are scarce.
No Mow May lawns in a study of Appleton, WI's participation in the program, showed a five-fold higher bee abundance and three-fold higher bee species richness compared with regularly mowed areas.
Participation in this program is voluntary. You can pick up a No Mow May yard sign at the Village Office (2417 Brewery Rd) during business hours, for a donation.
To read more about this program: No Mow May Information.
Why are bees so important? Why do we want to save them?
Bees play a crucial role in pollination, where they use the hairs on their bodies to carry grains of pollen between plants.
Around 75% of crops produce better yields if animals help them pollinate. In fact, some plants are specialized for pollination by animals (some plants can be pollinized by wind, bats and birds) and can't be pollinated any other way. Bees visit over 90% of the world's top crops.
Without bees we wouldn't have nuts, coffee, cocoa, tomatoes, apples or almonds (to name just a few).
Not only are bees good for crops, they produce their own crop... HONEY!
Honey is known for its antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. Plus it's pretty great in a cup of tea.
Beeswax is another important product that bees produce. Beeswax is used in candles, waterproofing materials and skincare products.
There are also studies being conducted about bee venom helping with people who suffer from Lymes disease, inflammation and central nervous system diseases.
If you are interested in helping save the bees, we encourage you to participate in the Village's No Mow May pilot program. For more information, you can check our website: www.cross-plains.wi.us or call us at the Village office at 608-798-3241.
Yard signs are available at the Village Office (donations are appreciated).
How did we get here? To the point that our food supply is in danger because of bees disappearing?
One reason, is due to urbanization. More buildings means less plants. Another reason... lawns.
The lawn originated in Europe. The climate there supported open, close-cut grasslands. Castles would have lawns so they could have an unobstructed view of visitors. They would also allow their sheep and cattle to keep these lawns nice and cropped.
Bee City USA's website says "A lush, green, weed-free lawn has historically been center stage in American landscaping. It tells the whole neighborhood that you are a competent, hard-working, contributing member of society. Dandelions and an overgrown lawn are a sign of neglect, incompetence and laziness - or so our culture would have you believe."
Planet Natural's website states that "While the lawn started as a sign of upper-class British wealth, it became a symbol of the middle-class American dream: a home of one's own, surrounded by green, green grass. The task for the future is how to hold onto what is valuable in this dream, while letting go of what is harmful." (https://www.planetnatural.com/organic-lawn-care-101/history/
The harmful things that they talk about are pesticides, weed-free grass seeds and combined fertilizers and pesticides (like weed and feed).
The issue with these products is that they were also killing off pollinator friendly weeds like dandelions, and also labeled clover as a weed. Clover takes nitrogen from the air and deposits it into the earth where the grass then uses it.
So what can we do to help? Start small, participate in No Mow May. "Pardon our weeds, we're feeding the bees". Allowing these 'weeds' to grow in the early season of your lawn, allows bees and other pollinators the chance to emerge from hibernation and start their very important jobs.
Cute Fuzzy Bees vs. Mean Angry Wasps.
We wanted to share the differences between bees and wasps as bees sometimes get a bad rap.
-Bees can only sting once and then they die. Wasps can sting numerous times.
-Bees are fuzzy. Wasps have little to no hair.
-Bees pollinate our plants. Wasps eat other insects.
-Bees eat pollen and nectar. Wasps eat human food left laying around.
-Bees are gentle in nature and rarely sting. Wasps are aggressive and ready to sting.
-Bees legs are usually hidden while flying. Wasps legs hang down while flying.
-Bees produce honey. Wasps produce annoyance.
If you feel like you have a 'pest' problem involving bees or wasps, please call a professional. Bees should be relocated and removed gently. Wasps should be exterminated.
Another way you can help pollinators is by having a pollinator garden.
Native plants are a great way to do this. Here is a list of some native plants that are easy to grow throughout Wisconsin and help pollinators. When planning your garden, try to have a least one plant that blooms in the spring, summer and fall to maximize the benefits to pollinators.
Spring Bloomers- Wild geranium, Columbine, Solomon's Seal - all of these do great in the shade as well! Also Prairie Phlox
Summer Bloomers- Common Milkweed (also, Butterfly weed and Red Milkweed), Bee-balm, Culver's Root, Maidenhair Fern, Purple Coneflower, Anise Hyssop, Sweet Black-Eyed Susan, Orange Coneflower
Fall Bloomers- Heart-Leaved Aster, Little Bluestem, New England Aster, Stiff Goldenrod, Showy Goldenrod, Meadow Blazing Star, Aromatic Aster
There are many other resources out there to help with the planning and planting of a pollinator garden. If you aren't ready for a such a big step, consider a smaller one by participating in No Mow May!