Can Your Yard or Deck 'Bee' Part of a Pollinator Pathway?
According to the U.S. Forest Service, 75 percent of our food crops depend on animal pollinators. Likewise, birds and insects depend on flowering plants to provide food, mates and materials for nest-building - and neither can exist without the other.
So how do we go about attracting pollinators? Consider establishing or being part of a Pollinator Pathway in your community or neighborhood.
The Pollinator Pathway project (pollinator-pathway.org) seeks to establish pollinator-friendly habitat and food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinating insects and wildlife along a series of continuous corridors. And since most native bees have a range of about 750 meters, the goal is to connect properties that are no farther apart than that.
The team at Millcreekgardens.com in Salt Lake City know the best gardening tip for attracting bees and other pollinators involves choosing annual and perennial flowers that have plenty of nectar and that bloom during the day.
Blue and yellow are the best colors for bees, although any brightly colored blooms will attract animal pollinators of all types. Choose those varieties that hold their blooms the longest.
Plant a mix of early-, middle- and late-season bloomers so pollinators have access to nectar throughout the growing season. The best flowers also must provide an adequate landing platform to support their visit.
Jessica Walliser at savvygardening.com offers these tips toward creating or improving your own pollination stations:
- Preserve undisturbed, wild areas that can serve as sources of nectar and habitat.
- Protect nesting sites like rock piles, heaps of brush, snags, hollow-stemmed plants, and bare ground.
- Pay careful attention to how and when you cut back and clean up your garden in the spring and the fall. Many native pollinators nest and overwinter in garden debris.
- Tilling the garden can also be destructive because a significant number of native bee species nest in the ground.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also reminds first-time pathway participants to plant your pathway flowers in clumps rather than as single plants to better attract pollinators.
By John Voket