Look beyond your vegetable garden—a salad awaits you in the weeds

Watch this fun video featuring foraging expert Wildman Steve Brill touring New York’s Central Park in search of edible common weeds such as Garlic Mustard, Violet, Poor Man’s Pepper, Pennycress, Cattails, and more. Many of these weeds are native to Michigan as well.

MSU Expert may have found a cause for honeybee loss

The Detroit News:

A Michigan State University researcher may have found the key to the infiltration and destruction of the nation’s honeybee colonies.

It has to do with the invader’s stink. Specifically, the now-infamous Varroa mite uses a chemical camouflage to match its body odor — or something close to it — to its honeybee host. It even fine-tunes the formula to mimic the subtle differences of smell among bees in individual colonies.

“Honeybees rely a lot of on chemical communications,” said Zachary Huang, an MSU entomologist and lead author on a paper in the academic journal, Biology Letters, explaining the mite’s ability to deceive.

Read the full article here…

Check out Dr. Huang’s Bee blog here…

Preview: Gardening and life lessons

A Detroit horticulture program is making a difference in the lives of its students

The upcoming June issue of Michigan Gardener (in stores Tuesday, June 2) contains an article about Detroit Pubic Schools’ Drew Horticulture Program. The article is written by Michael Craig, a Detroit Public School special education teacher and horticulture program instructor at the Charles Drew Transition Center. Craig was recently honored with the Michigan Lottery/WXYZ’s “Excellence in Education” Award. Here is an excerpt from Craig’s article:

I am excited to relay to you the story of The Drew Horticulture Program featuring The Gardens at Drew, and in the process, include tips and techniques from our program that you can implement in your own gardens. I’ll also explain how we battled and defeated the dreaded blossom end rot on our precious tomatoes.

The Charles Drew Transition Center, a Detroit Public School, is a unique post-secondary vocational center for the moderate and severely cognitively impaired, visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically impaired, and students with autism. The Transition Center, which serves special education students ages 18-26, is a one-of-a kind educational facility where students have access to an age-appropriate learning environment. The staff develops programs teaching vocational work skills leading to the possibility of employment, providing functional independence and full inclusion into community life.

Read the rest of the story on June 2. Pickup a copy of in stores or read our digital edition.

Watch Michael Craig’s acceptance of his award along with a
surprise visit from Tom Izzo, head coach, Michigan State basketball team

40 percent of U.S. bees perished since April 2014—second highest die-off ever

Bee deaths since April 2014, are the second highest ever.

Bee deaths since April 2014, are the second highest ever. (Flickr / rickpilot_2000)

The number of bee colonies that died in the year since April 2014 reached levels only ever seen once before, reported the Bee Informed Partnership.

Of the total number of colonies managed over the past 12 months, U.S. beekeepers said 42.1 percent were lost. It was the second-highest annual loss recorded.

Annual beehive losses varied across the nation, with the highest in Oklahoma at 63.4 percent and the lowest in Hawaii, with 14 percent.

During this past winter season, the Bee Informed Partnership gathered data from 6,128 beekeepers in the United States who managed 398,247 colonies as of October 2014. That represents about 14.5 percent of the estimated 2.74 million managed honey bee colonies in the country.

Winter die-offs were reported to be 18.7 percent, which is quite a bit lower than the nine-year average total loss of 28.7 percent, the partnership noted. But bees don’t just die in the winter; they perish in the summer too.

Read the rest of the story…

Read the study at Bee Informed…

Spring is the time to stop pruning oak trees

MSU Extension:

Fresh pruning wounds of oak trees attract beetles that spread oak wilt. It is critical to not prune oaks from April 15-July 15 in Michigan.

Oak wilt is an aggressive disease that affects many species of oak (Quercus spp.). It is one of the most serious tree diseases in the eastern United States, killing thousands of oaks each year in forests, woodlots and home landscapes. Oaks in the red oak group, distinguished by oak leaves with pointy lobes (Photo 1), are much more susceptible to the disease than white oaks, distinguished by oak leaves with rounded lobes. However, all oaks can be affected.

Read the rest of the article…