Pollen and nectar projects up and running!

The beginning of flowering for Echinacea angustifolia means it’s time for Team Echinacea to get collect Echinacea pollen and nectar! This project is part of our MN ENRTF funded research to understand fire’s impacts on ground nesting bee habitat and food resources. It’s our second year of sampling and we have made some modifications and improvements to our protocol.

This year we are collecting from a total of 62 plants across 12 sites (some burned in 2023, some in 2024, and a few not burned in either year). Where possible, we are collecting from plants that we also collected from last year, which will make for some interesting comparisons. Many plants did not re-flower in 2024, so Wyatt and I bolstered our sample by randomly selecting other focal plants.

On Monday, Wyatt and I visited our first flowering focal plants with Grace and Rebecca from NDSU and tested out methods. We learned how to sample immature florets, a new method we are using to assess pollen quantity this year. We also brushed up on nectar and pollen collection.

Wyatt collects pollen from the anthers of a flowering Echinacea

By Tuesday we were able to train the whole team in on the protocol and start collecting! So far our data sheets have worked pretty well, and we are figuring out ways to improve efficiency in the field. Stay tuned as more of our focal plants begin to flower!


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