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Bees and flowers have an amazingly close relationship. Flowers need bees to reproduce, and bees need flowers to feed their colonies. Take away one, and the other would disappear too. It begs the question: When it comes to evolution, which came first, the bees or the flowers?

For humans, to bee or not to bee isn’t truly a question – we must always bee! Bees and other pollinators help to ensure that our crops produce food, and they are a critical part of ecosystems all over the world. Despite their importance, however, pollinator populations are declining worldwide and many native species of bees have already gone extinct. How is it that a species so important to our survival is disappearing? Lack of proper habitat is one of the major factors contributing to bees’ recent struggles, and lack of awareness isn’t helping them either! However, thanks to Piti Theater Company, western Massachusetts will be enjoying a spring filled with bee-related events and learning opportunities – helping to increase pollinator habitat, raise awareness about conserving local pollinator populations, and teaching families about the role of pollinators in our food systems.

Though the relationships between the two are generally predator-prey, studying the ways in which birds and insects depend on each other can offer insight into the inner workings of the local landscape. By learning to identify insects and birds, families can explore the who-eats-who of their surroundings!

Easily overlooked, the tracks and sign left by some of our landscape’s smallest creatures are fascinating, and speak volumes as to the habits of the many insect species found locally. Families can explore the miniature world of insects through a photography exhibit at the Westhampton Library!

Go on a musical hike with guest DJs Jeff and Paige to explore insects this week on the Hilltown Family Variety Show! Through music and story you’ll learn: how to identify an insect, how insects connect with animals, how insects help humans, and how humans can help insects! Jeff and Paige will play some of their favorite songs as well as fun tunes from other children’s musicians and from a few adult acts. Make sure you have room to dance as you explore nature and science with Jeff and Paige.

Call for citizen scientists! Adventurous, bug-loving families in Western MA can help to contribute to ongoing ant research and identification of species by participating in a project called School of Ants…

It’s been the summer of love for pollinators! We have been reminded how much we need these important and industrious little creatures. The Berkshire Museum BeMuse Program series is offering two upcoming events which are particularly intriguing and inviting for those of you who want to get to know your local pollinators and how you can help them along the way!

Join a kid-safe bee revival! Support local pollinators in a kid-friendly, fun and educational way from your own backyard. The building of bee condos (also know as insect hotels) mobilizes woodworking skills and the use of recycled materials. When the bees come, the whole family can observe their habits and what plants they take a shine too. Support local pollinators with their own private condo, surrounded by native plants they are best attracted to!

Once upon a time, people knew their places from the perspective of the river; and what is so wonderful is that this perspective is still available to those who pine for a way of seeing, and being, that is not pavement-based! The East Branch river valley a cure for all things pavement—and it awaits your spring migration. Read this month’s “The Ripple” and be inspired once again!

Teaching moments are found everywhere, especially in our gardens and natural surroundings. This month in “The Garden Plot,” Jim writes about climate change and the changes to insect populations this brings. What changes might this bring to our landscapes and abilities to grow crops? Challenge kids to think of the many examples of species that Jim outlines to better understand their adaptability and possible changes – there are lots of possible choices to examine…

An Invitation to Think Outside about Floods Floods, like weeds, are problems. Occupying places we don’t want them to, they ruin things we are growing. Weeds are plants in the wrong place. And what’s a wrong place, we decide. Floods are the return of ocean to mountain. They decide with the objectivity we (would) laud in our courts of justice. They’re not elitist; they are levelers. Floods would not be a problem… Read More

Before May Flies, Meet the Mayfly Imagine never getting swarmed and bit by mayflies as you revel in the vivacities unleashed by the ubiquitous green fountain of spring. Imagine gardening, or hiking, or simply sitting on a park bench without having to constantly swat and flinch and keep from going mad as the mayflies crawl on your neck and arms and ears, looking for a sweetspot to slice skin and lap blood…. Read More

Get Into the Flow Like a Mayfly “Rivers can take this—don’t worry!” said Jason Johnson, who works with Masswildlife’s Caleb Slater to stock our streams with trout and salmon, after hearing me whine about the drought. “Most droughts occur in late summer. The fact that this one is happening as the leaves come out…” I’d worried. “The tree species that are native to our area can handle this. It happened a few… Read More

Firefly Watch! Citizen Science Project Thursdays through August 5th in the Berkshires Fireflies are faithful harbingers of summer, but are they disappearing? If so, then why? Help scientists answer these questions by becoming a Firefly Watch Citizen Scientist. Firefly Watch was originally developed by The Museum of Science in Boston, and has taken off around the country with thousands of people participating each year. This summer join the Berkshire Museum and Department… Read More

Mud & Bugs It’s mud season here in the hills and we have a little little time before the torturous black-fly season, followed by the ever so itchy mosquito season – a time when our kids can easily be mistaken for having the chicken pox and adults have at least one token bug bite on their face in an ever so prominent spot. Towards the end of the summer, copious numbers of… Read More

Listen to Podcast: INSECT & SPIDERS EPISODE Hilltown Family Variety Show WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio Northampton, MA Saturday mornings from 9-10am May 24th, 2008 New Podcasts ♦ Archived Podcasts ♦ Subscribe to Podcast Radio ♦ Facebook ♦ Twitter Steve Weeks – “Yellowjacket” [Alphabet Songs Vol. III: Rabbit Run] Sharp Cookies – “Anteatereater” [Muddy Water Beaver Dam Band] Seth Decker – “Bugville Boogie” [Intergalactic Tour] Marais & Miranda – “What… Read More

Mud & Bugs It’s mud season here in the hills and we have a little time before the torturous black-fly season, followed by the ever so itchy mosquito season – a time when our kids can easily be mistaken for having the chicken pox and adults have at least one token bug bite on their face in an ever so prominent spot. Towards the end of the summer, copious numbers of tent… Read More

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