One of the primary threats to honey bees and other pollinators is the lack of available nectar and pollen sources. With increased urbanization, natural habitats for foraging pollinators have become scarce, and in turn so have their nutrition sources.
You can help! By simply planting flowers attractive to pollinators, you can play a role in protecting them and in turn, supporting our nation’s food supply. Not only will bees and other pollinators benefit from this simple act of good will, the colorful vegetation will also make your home, yard, or patio more attractive and enjoyable.
There are several things to consider in designing your pollinator friendly garden:
- Choose a variety of flowers and flowering plants that are native to your region as local pollinators are particularly adapted to these. If you are unsure what options are best, consult with a local gardener or nursery. Rest assured, from asters to zinnias, there are many attractive options available!
- Plant flowers in clusters to make them more easily noticed and accessed by pollinators.
- Consider including some exotic plants in your garden. They are particularly valuable as some can produce a lot of nectar.
- Plant a garden that will offer blooms in different seasons. Again, if you are not sure what choices to make in your community, seek advice from experienced gardeners.
- Consider plants that bloom at night to attract moths and other pollinators active in the evening.
- Avoid hybridized plants that often offer less pollen.
These gardening choices will welcome pollinators that are passing through your yard on their routine foraging missions.
A word of caution: It is important to note that your garden should be a welcome oasis for bees in the community that are being raised by professional or hobby beekeepers as these individuals understand how to work safely with bees. Unless you are trained in working with bees, you should not allow them or other stinging insects to take up residence on your property as their stings send 500,000 people to the hospital annually. If you see a hive or nest in or around your yard, contact a pest management professional to identify the type of insect present. If there is a bee hive, the pest management professional or a professional beekeeper can safely remove and preserve if it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticide by a well-intentioned homeowner. If it is a nest from any other type of stinging insect, a professional can recommend the most appropriate method of control.