DEAR SUN SPOTS: Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice is currently accepting orders for the annual Butterfly Release Ceremony. Please join us for a uniquely beautiful way to remember and honor loved ones. While we won’t be able to gather together as we have in the past, we are continuing this moving tradition in a different format.

On Saturday, July 25 at 11 a.m. on our Facebook page @AndroscogginHomeHealthcareAndHospice and at our website at you will be able to watch the ceremony, hear your loved ones’ names read aloud, and view the release of magnificent Monarch butterflies. We will also be placing garden butterflies on the grounds of the main office on Strawberry Avenue in Lewiston and the Hospice House on Stetson Road in Auburn.

The deadline to purchase butterflies is Friday, July 17 and can be done by going to our website or by calling the office at 777-7740.—Rachel, no town

ANSWER: I love that the organization has found a way to carry on this beautiful tradition. It’s so important for our mental and emotional health to find ways to celebrate life and to honor our loved ones during these times. I have personally taken part in the release of the butterflies and can say that is a very healing experience.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have seen significantly fewer pollinator bees than usual this year. Is this widespread? —Oliver, Auburn

ANSWER: As I’m sure you’ve read many times over, pollinator bees are in decline. Here in Maine, some pollinator populations are increasing or remaining stable while others are declining, according to Jennifer Lund, the Maine state apiarist (


One reason is that bee-friendly Maine farm land is being taken over by forests that aren’t as supportive to the bee population. Other more world-wide reasons include climate change, mites, and the use of pesticides.

Here are some tips to encourage bees to hang out with you in your yard, according to a Portland Press Herald article written by Tom Atwell on April 26:

Having at least three different species of plants in blossom at all times is important and native plants are best. Plant clumps of the same species close together because bees have to relearn how to extract pollen and nectar each time they approach a plant, so similar groupings are more efficient for them. Different bees like flowers of different heights and different shapes so plant a wide variety of plants.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension recommends tubular-flowered plants in the mint family, such as oregano, catmint, sage and lavender, as well as plants in the Aster family, like sunflowers and daisies.”

On the website, native flowers and bushes listed to attract bees include anise hyssop, butterfly milkweed, borage, white meadowsweet and purple coneflower, to name a few.

There is a very good article here:  about the status of bees and other pollinators in Maine and how we can support them.


For more information, you can go to If readers have anything they would like to add to the subject, please write in with your bee sitings and what you are doing to support pollinators.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name. We won’t use it if you ask us not to. Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to



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