Sunday, December 15, 2013

Reestablishing Fire Cycles in the Great Plains

Before Europeans arrived, fires routinely swept the Great Plains, rejuvenating grasses and suppressing trees spreading from the riparian areas that cross the region. Whether lightening caused or set by Native Americans, fire maintained the grasslands and provided lush grazing for bison. Europeans plowed the grasslands for crops and put out wildfires, disrupting natural fire regimes.

Today, land managers in the Great Plains are setting planned burns to reintroduce fire and reestablish fire cycles. I wrote a fact sheet about using planned burns for the Great Plains Fire Science Exchange (GPFSE).

The GPFSE increases understanding and improves management of fire in the Great Plains. This region stretches from Montana and North Dakota to central Texas. The Exchange is funded by the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP). The JFSP funds research on wildland fires needed by policy makers and land managers.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Ranchers Helping Salmon in Idaho's Lemhi Valley

Salmon and ranchers both need water. Salmon swim up rivers and streams to spawn; ranchers irrigate hay fields to provide winter feed for their livestock. Eastern Idaho rancher Merrill Beyeler believes that these uses can coexist.

He is increasing salmon habitat in Idaho’s Lemhi Valley while improving his ranching operation.

Beyeler is working with other ranchers, The Nature Conservancy, Idaho Fish and Game, and other groups, to remove barriers to fish, reconnect tributaries to the main Lemhi River, return the river to its previous, winding channel, and increase flow at the mouth of the Lemhi. Often, these changes mean less work for him and other ranchers.

I wrote about Merrill Beyeler’s stewardship work in the current Intermountain Farm & Ranch.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Solar Dairy

Cheese is protein-filled and delicious. Concentrating the goodness of milk into cheddars, Gouda, and Halloumi takes energy. Ballard Family Dairy and Cheese is using solar thermal energy, and other energy upgrades, to turn Jersey milk into irresistible, prize-winning cheeses. Learn more in my story, Sunnyside of Cheesemaking, in the Fall issue of Edible Idaho.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Echoes of My Grandmother's Garden

The sign said, "Please ring the bell." I reached for the cord and was seven again.

My two brothers and I had just escaped from the car where we had spent two days tormenting each other with words and looks. Six fugitive feet thumped the slate stones around our grandmother's porch and past the well to the dinner bell waiting on a metal pole next to her garden. We took turns pulling the thick wire and filling the garden with sound. We pulled to announce our arrival, we rang for the joyful noise of it, and we sounded a greeting to our cousins on the next farm.

My turn peeled across the wheat field, around the corner of the hen house, among the black walnuts in the woods, over the backs of the cows in the lane, and across the wooden bridge at the creek, which might have sheltered trolls. I let go of the wire and the tones slowed, softened to silence.

I hadn’t rung a dinner bell since that summer, when we spent six weeks on our grandmother’s farm while our dad went to summer school.

The bell that invited me to ring it this time perched on a wooden tower in a campground two thousand miles and many decades from my grandmother’s farm. I looked up at it through red geraniums, white alyssum, and blue trailing lobelia. U.S. and Washington state flags spread from opposite sides of the tower like wings.

This time, my peels disappeared into the s forest that threatened to swallow the campground. My hands itched to pull the cord again and again. I wanted to punch through the trees and bounce the sound off the trunks of the Doug fir and Sitka spruce, let it echo across hollow clear cuts, and send it cascading down the rocky gorge of the Little North River nearby. I overpowered the seven year old in me after two rings and forced my fingers to release the cord.

Long before I had an excuse to reach for the cord again, a woman in jeans a size I haven’t squeezed into since high school walked briskly around the corner of the bell tower. She wore a bucket around her neck made from a restaurant-sized tin can with holes in it for a string. Raspberries filled a third of the can and pulsed with sugar pumped into them by the summer sun.

"I’m glad you rang the bell," she said. "I was in the garden."

Ann introduced herself and opened the office. She told me that she and her husband shared the bounty of their large garden with guests. The blueberries weren’t quite ripe, but the raspberries were at their peak, and many kinds of greens were ready. Greens? I needed greens!

I had escaped Boise’s 100-degree bright summer for camping and hiking in the dripping moss and fairy tale fog of the Olympic Peninsula. Headed south on the coast highway, I struggled to keep my eyelids open against the pressure of a lumberjack-sized lunch. I squinted at the Washington atlas and saw an RV Park hugging the road in Artic, the town named through poor penmanship: the founder meant to name the place after his wife, "Arta," but a clerk misread his writing.

I sighed and heaved the atlas back onto the passenger seat. I’d been welcome in Olympic National Park, but private RV parks rarely allow tenters. The ones that do, banish fabric accommodations out of sight in the noisiest, muddiest/dustiest corner, closest to the highway or nestled in the corner where truckers unleash their Jake brakes. The manager of a park in Oregon told me why: "Our RVers don’t like tenters.”

I started camping when RVs were as rare as showers in a Forest Service campground. Our parents took us to Interstate State Park, near our home in Minneapolis. I was enchanted by the stiff, musty canvas pup tent our dad set up in the back yard for a trial run. Two end poles kept most of the heavy tent from collapsing, with the help of a tangle of oily jute ropes and muddy wooden stakes with flat mushroom tops.

As I ran on the trails and jumped in and out of the potholes at the state park, I dreamed about sleeping that night in the tent. I could hear the wind shaking the stiff canvas and smell the oily fabric. My first night outdoors! But our dad made up beds for my younger brother and me in the car. In the car? That wasn’t sleeping outside! I’d been in a car before. I salve that childhood disappointment every time I set up my tent or shake out my sleeping bag or on a sandy beach during a river trip.

I glanced halfheartedly at the Artic Park sign as I passed. So halfheartedly that I couldn’t read it all before it disappeared behind me. On my second pass, I read "Tenting" and "Bicyclers welcome" at the bottom. I pulled in and walked to the office. Next to the office was a bell tower.

As Ann told me about the park and garden, a grizzled Garrison Keillor lookalike came in. She introduced her husband, Roy, who seconded Ann’s welcome. I asked about the squirrel dashing up and down trees, slashing its tail and jabbering at me as if I’d parked in his spot. Roy said it was a Douglas squirrel; the two of them were on opposite sides of the War of the Bird Feeders.

Ann showed me the garden and invited me to pick a bowl of raspberries for my breakfast. She assured me she hadn’t gotten them all. “Everyone’s at a different height so they see different berries. But please leave the Cascade berries; we use them for wine.” I was welcome to Swiss chard, lettuce, and kale, plus oregano, fennel, and something lemony from the herb garden. "Anything but the foxglove," Ann summed up.

My grandmother’s garden stretched from the dinner bell to the field that was in wheat the year we stayed six weeks. My young eyes could hardly imagine an end to the garden. I wanted to dig my toes into the damp soil under the scratchy straw, but Grandmother kept the rows of tomatoes, green beans, carrots, lettuce, strawberries, and asparagus firmly mulched.

Gladiolas next to the fence by the hen house were the only nonedible crop. I can still see her walking into Quaker meeting, her determined stride, leaning forward slightly, with a slight hitch of age, carrying a sturdy blue vase of "glads.”

We kids didn’t know what good food was. Vegetables and greens were obstacles to consume so we could go back to playing with the toad in the back yard, messing around at the creek, or watching the hogs in the barn lot. Home-canned morels were weird looking and gross. Lucky for us, our dad didn’t trust his mother-in-law's skill at identifying ascomycetes: he didn’t want us eating those things. My mother and grandmother didn’t argue; they served themselves a few more.

In Ann and Roy’s garden, I picked a grocery bag full of greens and herbs, plus a bowl of raspberries for breakfast (berries consumed while picking not shown). A net bag made a great camp salad spinner. I added sliced baby carrots, olive oil, and lime juice for the perfect antidote to a lumberjack lunch. A beer catalyst brought complete recovery.

I was writing in my camp chair at dusk when a white truck pulled a trailer past my site and circled around to an empty spot. A man got out and walked to the office. A moment later, the dinner bell rang.

Roy walked over from the house to check the man in. In a splash of light near the bell tower, the men talked about traveling, trailers, and trucks. They talked so long that a girl, a little older than I was when I rang my grandmother’s bell, left the trailer and walked to the office.

She waited for a break in the conversation to ask, "Can I ring the bell?"

“Sure,” said Roy.

The sound spiraled up from the bell tower to the Douglas squirrel’s nest. He lifted his head, listened, then tucked his nose under his tail and went back to sleep. The sound bounced across the berry canes, the salad greens, and the herb garden to the forest. The trees didn’t notice the sound, but I did. She rang for both of us when she pulled the cord again and again.

As I got ready for bed, an invisible orchestra of crickets scratched away under a Milky Way I see so infrequently that it always astonishes me. I zipped into my sleeping bag and thought about the fresh raspberries waiting for me in the cooler.

I hope that girl has a grandmother with a dinner bell in her backyard and a farm with a creek beyond the garden. Or was that the first real bell she’d heard among the electronic beeps that crowd, fill, deafen, clang, bang, her life? Would she pick berries and greens in the garden the next day? Or does she only eat food from the grocery store?

I wonder if the girl longed to leave the trailer and sleep in a tent as much as I did on my first camping trip. Will she find the same magic in sleeping outdoors that I do? When I set up my tent for the last time, I hope she'll be doing the same thing somewhere, and thinking about her journey from joyous bell ringer to confident camper.


Note: In telling this story, I combined two conversations into one, to improve the flow.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Why Did the Chickens Cross the Pasture?

To let the vegetation regrow, reduce parasites and disease, spread nutrients evenly, and to find more plants and insects to eat.

The chickens crossed the pasture in a travel trailer.

I visited Malheur River Meats’ ranch while they were moving their chickens recently. Their flock of laying hens and attending roosters live in remodeled trailers. I’ve lived in something similar, but it still had appliances and furniture.

The chickens can’t move on their own; they need some help: First, pull the T posts at each corner of their current pasture. It’s easiest to use a chain on the bucket of the tractor.

See this line of fence? As you walk down it, pull each of the white fence posts out of the ground. Lay each post, and the attached woven electric fence, on the ground as you go.

When you get to the end, grab the last post and walk toward the chicken's new pasture. Once the fences are in the right places, hook the tractor to the trailer and drive off. If the door swings open and chickens start popping out, ask the photographer to run over and shut the door.

Be careful as you drive over the prone fence.

In the chickens' new pasture, stop on a level spot and unhook the tractor.

Don't forget to go back for the escaped chickens, which are outside the new pasture. They won’t cross the prone fence, so have the tallest person hold it up so everyone else can chase the chickens underneath. You’ll need at least one person per chicken.

Complete the job by reassembling the fence. Remember to reattach the electrical connectors at each corner, so an electrified fence is more than just a good idea.

When the fence is complete, open the trailer door and stand back from the explosion of red, grey, white, and black hens. Soon, they’ll be laying brown, green, tan, and white eggs at their new home. See a video of the action here.

The chickens seem pleased with their new digs; how does the pasture feel about the roving chickens?

Lisa Burke, one half of the Farming Engineers in Kirklin, Indiana found the answer on Google Earth. The current image of their farm was taken in early spring, before the pasture greened up. But the chickens' travels the previous summer show as a chain of vigorously growing green patches.

The chickens, and their supplemental feed, add nutrients to the soil, but I suspect something else is going on, too. I wonder if the chickens’ scratching could have roughed the soil surface enough that it warmed more quickly than the other areas.

How do you think the chickens painted green patches on the pasture?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Modern Pastoralists use Goats to Reduce Weeds and Fire

Tim and Lynda Linquist are using an old technique to solve modern problems. The couple’s business, We Rent Goats, employs one of the oldest domesticated animals. Their goats are an environmentally friendly way to remove weeds and brush, and reduce fire hazards.

The Linquists set up woven electric fences, and then deliver goats and burly white guard dogs that protect the herd from coyotes and stray dogs. They check on the animals often and are only a phone call away if there are problems. Landowners pay from $350 to $600 an acre for a one-time treatment. The cost depends on the complexity of the fencing required, the vegetation on the site, and transportation costs. The entertainment provided by the goats is free.

The rental goats are minimizing the fire danger in several Boise foothills neighborhoods this spring. Colten Tippetts, Town Manager at Hidden Springs, uses the goats on slopes too steep for mowers and brush cutters. The animals also fit in with the rural focus of the planned community.

The Idaho Transportation Department is using the goats for the first time this year to mow around stormwater retention basins. Shawn Strong, with ITD’s southwest Idaho vegetation crew, said the goats control weeds without the risk of herbicides getting into waterways.

Later in the summer, the herds will remove rush skeleton weed in some of the City of Boise’s foothills reserves. “We usually get good response from the public to the goats, because people enjoy watching them. Herbicide application freaks more people out than goats do,” said Julia Grant, Boise’s Foothills and Open Space Manager. Grant added that, despite warning signs on the low-voltage fence, people can get a shock, especially if they’re unlucky enough to fall onto the fence.

In addition to removing an invasive weed, the goats reduce fire danger. “Weeds are problem number one, but fire and weeds are so intertwined,” Grant said. Weeds allow fire to spread and then often sprout in burned areas before the native plants can recover.

After the weed and fire seasons are over, the Linquists’ goats spend the fall cleaning up alfalfa and organic hops fields. Then the goats have a few months off before they start kidding in late March. By May, the growing kids are ready to go to work with their mothers and the cycle starts again.

When Lynda, 28, and Tim, 36, met, they discovered a shared love for goats. Lynda’s pet goat William went everywhere with her and rode shotgun in her Jeep. Tim had started with 25 goats on his five acres near Wilder, Idaho. He saw a business opportunity when a friend in California wanted brush cleared from his land: Tim increased his herd to 200 and put them all to work.

The couple brought the goats back to Wilder in December 2009. That year, they were all due to kid early. Tim remembered, “I didn’t think it was going to be that bad; we had kidded goats before, but not in the snow and not that many. We were in for an education.” Lynda added, “We had a hard freeze first thing. If we didn’t get the babies into the barn under a heat lamp, they would freeze to the ground within 15 minutes.”

Tim’s job kept him on the road four or five days a week. That left Lynda, who had job closer to home, in charge of the 200 mothers-to-be. Early in 2010, Tim had used up all his vacation time and realized that weed-eating goats were a full time business. He quit his job at the end of April. “It was the best decision I ever made, after marrying Lynda,” he said.

Lynda, the president of We Rent Goats, participated in Boise’s MicroEnterprise Training and Assistance (META) program. This nonprofit helps women, new Americans, minorities, and other low- to moderate-income entrepreneurs in southwest and south central Idaho. META’s business classes and coaching have been a big help to the new business owners. “I had to learn everything,” Lynda said. “They helped me write a business plan, I learned to use accounting software--everything. And I was a psych major.”

The Linquists have adopted the nomadic lifestyle of many herders before them. The couple gave up their home in Wilder for a fifth wheel travel trailer, which lets them stay near their animals on their yearly circuit of open space, waterways, and agricultural fields. The first two years on the road were challenging. “We were goat ranchers, but we had to learn about portable fencing and being a mobile goat operation. We’re fencing experts now,” Lynda said.

As their client list grows, Tim and Lynda are increasing their herd. They keep the best females for breeding and sell the rest, plus the young males, for meat. The animals are raised humanely and certified as Animal Welfare Approved.

We Rent Goats needs to add people, too. They hire one or two summer employees every year, but they need more if they’re going to continue to grow. As Tim pointed out, though, it takes a special person to care for the goats properly, work with the dogs, and travel constantly. Acquiring land is the biggest challenge most new ranchers and farmers face. “We need a home base, someplace for the does to kid; a place to land if anything happens,” Tim said. Even agricultural lenders are surprised by the couple’s business model. While feed is a major expense for most livestock operations, the Linquists’ goats are paid to eat. “People can’t believe how low our feed costs are, especially now with hay being $200 a ton,” Tim explained.

Until they buy land, Lynda and Tim spend the off-season with their goats on empty patches of land near Boise. They find that bringing a herd of goats with them opens doors, as most people fall in love with the engaging animals. Being around the herd has a soothing effect on people and seems to bring back memories of an ancient way of life.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Trash the Fat

I heard a splash when I tossed my filthy Tevas into the empty bathtub. I pulled back the shower curtain and saw gray Idaho silt from my sandals mixing with dishwater, spaghetti, and tomato paste. A ring of meatball grease circled the tub. The neighbors’ kitchen sink had backed up while I was in the field for a week.

Our 1940s-era apartments had nooks for phones, built-in folding ironing boards, and Murphy beds, but no garbage disposals. I was most dismayed by the food I found floating with my Tevas, but I learned recently that the meatball grease probably caused more problems for the city.

Meridian, Idaho’s Go with the Flow Tour on June 6, 2013 followed the path water takes from the city’s wells to its wastewater treatment plant.

We filled bottles at one of the wells, were subjected to wet pranks at the water tower, and drove up Meridian Road, where the city is laying new water lines while the road is being widened.

At our final stop we saw how gravity and bacteria do the heavy lifting at the treatment plant. Gravity settles out solids into sludge and various kinds of bacteria break down dissolved impurities. The city's short film about water's outbound journey from our homes premiered at the tour. You can watch it here.

We learned that the unattractive foam on wastewater is produced by a bacterium that feeds on grease.

Microthrix parvicella forms hair-like filaments less than 1/100th the width of a human hair. The bacteria produce foam that creates problem at the treatment plant and requires special techniques to control.

The City of Meridian's Trash the Fat program reduces the amount of cooking grease reaching the wastewater facility. The Environmental Division gives away plastic scrapers and lids. Just scrape grease into a can, cover with the lid, and put in the fridge. The grease will solidify when it cools. Then put the can in the trash--but keep the lid for next time.

If you’re wondering what happens to grease that gets into the sewer, find out here. Don’t watch it while you’re eating.

If I'd known then what I know now, the almost-20-year olds living next door would have received a house-warming gift of a plastic scraper and lid.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good Riddance to the Great Inversion

Although temperatures are still a bit below normal in Boise, we no longer hear the phrase, "historic cold snap" as part of the forecast. When we hit the upper 50s later this week, I’m going to declare an end to the winter of 2012-13 and say good riddance to the Great Inversion.

Our raw, windy Christmas day turned to snow at dusk. The freeway between Nampa, where I spent the day, and Boise, where I live, was closed: there had been a deadly accident on the icy highway. I crept home on a tractionless and deserted side road.

After Christmas, the weather got worse. A large high pressure system moved in over the Pacific Northwest. It brought warm, sunny, dry air that expanded over the existing cold, moist air, trapping it in the valleys. We were socked in tighter than the Republican voting block in the Idaho legislature.

Boise festered at the bottom of the Great Inversion for a month and a half. Day after dismal day, we woke to sinister fog. We dragged ourselves out of bed and fought the urge to go the airport, walk to a ticket counter, and scream, “I don’t care what it costs; get me out of here!” We struggled through a world of suspended ice crystals that pierced our winter jacket-sweater-turtleneck-long underwear layers. We compared notes with coworkers, cashiers, and hairdressers, “I haven’t seen a winter like this in the [fill in the blank with the number of years you’ve lived in Boise] years I’ve been here!” I heard numbers as high as 36. At night, we collapsed in bed, exhausted from the effort of moving through a thousand-foot thick blanket of ice, car exhaust, wood stove smoke, and sugar beet processing plant exhaust.

Just after the New Year, I was hurrying to catch the bus, head down, watching for ice on the sidewalk, so I didn't fall and break a bone, or the laptop in my pack. As I passed a small maple tree, I thought I heard a robin chirp. “Wow; the inversion really got to me,” I thought. “I’m having auditory hallucinations of spring.”

Two weeks later, before the sun was up enough for a clear photo, the back yard of my apartment complex swarmed with dozens of flitting, hopping, flapping male robins. They gobbled juniper berries off the trees by the neighbor’s garage. So many birds were jockeying for perches that each one was only able to grab a few of the dusty, purple cones (as botanists call them) before being displaced by another male. Junipers aren’t made for sitting, so the birds fluttered frantically around the edges of the dense, bristly, branches, trying to impersonate hummingbirds long enough to find a landing spot with food nearby.

The flocks of robins returned several more early mornings over the next week. On their last visit, they were reduced to cleaning up previously rejected cones on the ground under the trees.

I wonder how the flocks of robins fared during the Great Inversion. They re-appear every year in mid January and every year it seems to me they made a poor decision. I noticed them earlier than usual this year and I fear that this year’s visit might have been a fatal mistake for many. This spring, I’ll watch the robins quarrel over nesting territories and listen to them advertise their new digs and search for a mate with more fondness than usual. While the winter of the Great Inversion was trying our sanity, and the strength of our bones when we slipped on the ice, the male robins returned and carried on as usual. They returned and promised us that spring really would come again after all.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Gift of Stayman's Winesaps

I got out my Imperial Veri-Sharp paring knife with the stainless steel blade. My grandmother would have approved. To her mind, stainless was next to godliness: it lasted forever and was easy to keep clean. As a Trustee of her local hospital in the 1950s, she insisted that all the new sinks be stainless steel.

I selected one of the Stayman's Winesaps. They were my grandmother’s favorite apple; she said that a “Delicious apple” was an oxymoron. When I learned Otis and Barbara had one of the trees in their Boise backyard, I banished politeness and asked for some of the fruit.

I rinsed off the faint wash of white clay that dulled the apple’s skin. Otis meant to spray the fruit with kaolin clay every two weeks. But he often let a bit more time pass before he got out his hand pump sprayer and applied another coat. Insects hoping for a meal of apples, or to lay eggs in their flesh, don’t like walking or crawling through the clay particles. They leave clay-covered fruits alone.

I cut around the apple’s meridian from the top to the blossom end and back up the other side. Then I trimmed away the stem and the remains of the dried blossom from each half and carefully cut around the core, or pome, which gives apples, pears, and quince their name (“pome fruit”). When she cored an apple, my grandmother left a smooth, shallow dimple. I tend to gouge out uneven divots that take some of the flesh, too: I waste good food. I can still hear my grandmother chide me whenever I reach for a vegetable peeler instead of a knife: “Peelers waste so much.”

She served chicken on one of my visits. I thought I did a fine job of cleaning my plate: I left a pile of bones connected by ligaments, tendons, and a few shreds of meat in the hard-to-reach places. My grandmother reduced her chicken to a pile of clean, dry, disarticulated bones that would have inspired a colony of dermestid beetles to work longer hours.

Otis had ensured that their tree produced good-sized Stayman’s Winesap apples, so I cut each half into slices. Standing on his tripod orchard ladder, he had thinned the fruit when the developing apples were about the size of one of his fingernails. He removed all but one from each cluster of flowers; if there were still too many fruits along a branch, he removed entire clusters.

Biting into the first slice, I tasted the pink and white perfume of last spring’s apple blossoms. Bee legs tickled the inside of my cheek and a pollen basket might have brushed my tongue. That bee, or another one, must have spilled a few grains of pollen from one of its baskets onto the flower that produced the apple I was eating.

Most of the foods we eat, other than grains (corn, wheat, barley, etc.), must be pollinated by insects, and bees do most of the work. Whenever I see a truck loaded with hives of honeybees on their way to a pollinating job, I can’t resist waving. I wave and I worry about the bees’ dwindling numbers, as Colony Collapse Disorder ravages hives across the country. Researchers don’t completely understand the cause, or treatment, of the disorder: disease, stress, and pesticides are all suspects.

I ate the Stayman's Winesap slowly. All things in moderation; don’t be greedy; live within your means. My grandmother lived within her means. When my brothers and I were kids, she lived in the house her grandfather built in 1873. We assumed everyone’s grandmother had a commode chair with a chamber pot in the downstairs bedroom and a wood-burning range in the kitchen.

When she was 80, my grandmother built a new house, after realizing it would be cheaper than fixing up her old one. Her new house had hardwood floors, marble windowsills, thermal pane windows, a tiled fireplace hearth with a mantelpiece made from a maple tree that grew in her woods, and a small greenhouse off the garage. Her new house did not have a mortgage.

The wood-burning range went into the basement of her new house, “for when the power goes out.” The refrigerator wasn’t worn out yet, so she put it in the basement, too, and stored apples and other fruit in it. As I swallowed the last bite of my first Stayman’s Winesap, I remembered my grandmother's new kitchen. She bought a new fridge, an electric range, and her first dishwasher. The range and the dishwasher were clad in stainless steel.


More about apples

The apples we see in the grocery store are only a tiny sample of the thousands of varieties that exist. Orchards planted by early European settlers in Idaho contain valuable genetic resources. Learn how this diversity is being cataloged and preserved here.

European honeybees, which travel from orchard to orchard in hives, aren't our only pollinators. Learn more about our 4,000 species of native bees here.