|Agastache 'Bolero' with Bumble|
|Oenothera fruticosawith small carpenter bee|
|Echinacea pallida 'Hula Dance'|
|Aronia melanocarpa with native bee|
|Carpenter Bee on Penstemon|
I appreciate all the pollinators at Clay and Limestone, but, my favorite has always been the Bumble.
Bumbles won my heart dozens of years ago when I noticed how hard they worked in the garden. They were the first pollinators up and about each morning and the last to leave each night. I found them sleeping on flowers on cool mornings and watched them nectaring and gathering pollen on the last of the latest blooming ex-asters in November. They were a joy to watch and I wanted to learn all about them. (from earlier post)
I learned that they are social bees that build nests in the soft earth or leaf litter.
I learned that they are generalist and will visit almost any nectar and pollen producing plant, but, like all creatures, they do seem to appreciate a varied diet, so I have planted dozens of plants, native and specially chosen exotics, for them to choose among!
I always knew they were gentle, but, I learned they did not swarm and rarely stung.
I discovered that they are major pollinators in vegetable gardens and orchards~If you want tomatoes, you need bumbles and if you love orchard crops, berries, watermelon, sunflowers and other fruits you also need bumbles. They pollinate 1/3 of what we eat and that 80% of the world's crops are dependent upon them for pollination.
I read that Bumbles and other native bees prefer yellow, purple, blue, violet and white flowers~But, I've seen them on almost every colored flower in my garden.
There's lots we can do for Bumbles and the other pollinators that live in and visit our gardens. (Five Things You Can Do Right Now To Save Pollinators)
- plant large swathes of nectar and pollen producing plants
- plant host plants~so the offspring of butterfly, beetles and other pollinators can feed
- plan for bloom from late spring to early winter
- bee sure to include water
- provide nesting sites for a variety of visitors: Build a pollinator condo, leave some bare ground for earth nesting bees and pile decaying logs for beetles who like to tunnel.
- practice peaceful coexistence. Bees sometimes choose to nest in inconvenient places. Rather than exterminating them, think of it as an opportunity to see and learn about them up close. (thanks to MOBOT for this last one)
Of course you all know the one of the very best things you can do for pollinators is to never, ever, ever, ever use pesticides!
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.