|Bombus impatiens - Common Eastern Bumble Bee|
I'm not kidding, just five things. That's all it takes for you to help pollinators make a comeback.
|ex-aster and bumbles last year |
Our native bee populations need our help. Especially the bumblebees. They are disappearing faster than scientists had thought and they aren't sure exactly why.
At least four species of wild American bumblebees are edging toward extinction: the Franklin’s bumblebee (Bombus franklini) and Western bumblebee (Bombus occidentalis) in the Western US, and the rusty-patched bumblebee (Bombus affinis) and yellow-banded bumblebee (Bombus terricola) in the Eastern US. (source: Xerces Society)
What I know is that we need our bumbles. They are far more efficient at pollinating our crops than honeybees. These garden workhorses pollinate tomatoes, blueberries, cucumbers, peppers, vegetables, seed crops, strawberries, cane berries, melons, and squash. Whew that's a lot of my favorite foods!
I count on them to pollinate my wildflowers, so, I'm doing all I can to help them. But, there aren't nearly as many in my garden as there have been in past summers. That makes my commitment to help them even stronger....and not just because it's National Pollinator Week!
Here's what you can do~
|Why not join the Bring Back The Pollinators campaign!|
|Echinaceas are attractive to many pollinators even the incidental ones like skippers|
Here are their 4 simple principles (in italics) followed by my suggestions on how to implement them!
1. Grow a variety of pollinator-friendly flowers:
- Plant large swathes of nectar and pollen producing plants. Plant at least three of each plant~bees seem to work one flower type at a time, so give them a lot!
- Plant host plants~don't stop at nectar and pollen plants.
- Plan for bloom from late spring to early winter. Think early spring ephemerals to late winter witch hazels!
|Creating, protecting and restoring habitat is a very important way to conserve the populations of bees that remain.|
- leave some bare ground for ground nesting bees (ix-nay on the plastic landscape cloth they can't tunnel through it),
- leave decaying logs in the garden; they're perfect for beetles and bees who like to use old beetle tunnels,
- offer special bee houses, and
- don't forget to provide water. Pam/Digging has marvelous shots of bees visiting her stock tank pond on the hottest days.
|beetles and hover flies|
3. Avoid pesticides!
- I suggest you never, ever, ever, ever use pesticides, but, you knew that already!
|Green Metallic Bee's need bare ground to nest|
4. Spread the word
- Join the Bring Back The Pollinators campaign and purchase a sign for your garden.
- Talk to your friends and neighbors about the importance of pollinator habitats.
- Blog about pollinators~Show us photos! Show off your crops and flowers! Educate us about your habitat and your part of this great big beautiful pollinated world!
My friends remember the Clay and Limestone motto: It's always a good time to think about and plan for pollinators.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone." She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.