Pollinators

We LOVE our Pollinators

Natureworks is an organic garden center and has been since we began in 1983. Our gardens and benches are alive and buzzing with life. Our mission is to teach YOU how to create a healthy, sustainable habitat for all creatures. It is very important that you understand the role of pollinators in your yard.

Pollinators are declining in numbers.  There are numerous reasons include destruction of habitat, pesticides, mono-cropping in agricultural fields which eliminates pollinator-friendly flowers, mowing and application of herbicides to roadsides, parks, and public spaces, and huge expanses of lawn (a monoculture of just turf grass)  which does not support native pollinators.

One of the most important resources is the Xerces Society  www.xerxes.org

Their website if filled with lots of very detailed information and is an excellent resource.

The book that we recommend as an invaluable reference is Attracting Native Pollinators, available at Natureworks.

Another very useful book is Feed the Bees, available at Natureworks.  Learn all about the wide range of flowers you can add to your yard to help our pollinators from early spring until late fall.

When you think of bees, the first thing that comes to mind are honey bees. While honeybees are very important pollinators for our food crops, they are not the only bees that do that work. In fact, honeybees are from Eastern Europe and not native to America. A very important category of pollinators are our NATIVE BEES.

There are three types of native bees. Social bees live in hives. Ground nesting bees lay their eggs in tunnels underground. Cavity nesting bees lay their eggs in hollow plant stems, holes in logs, and other openings.

Social bees include Eastern European honeybees

Ground nesting bees include mining bees, bumble bees, and squash bees

Tunnel nesting bees include mason bees, leaf cutter bees, sunflower bees, and sweat bees.

Mason bees (Osmia species) are CAVITY NESTING BEES. There are about 140 mason bee species in the United States. They do not sting as they don’t have a hive or a queen to protect. One of the hardest working and easily attracted to the garden is Osmia lignaria, the orchard mason bee or blue orchard bee. They are 120 times more effective as pollinators than honey bees! These solitary bees do not have to carry pollen back to a hive. They do not have pollen baskets on their legs. Instead, they gather pollen on the lower side of their bodies (called the scopia, think of it as the abdomen of the bee). They are very hairy and pack lots and lots of pollen (held together with a bit of nectar) on their scopia. Because they pick up and transfer so much pollen, they are VERY efficient pollinators!

Below you will see an Insect Hotel constructed at Natureworks to provide a home for our many native tunnel nesting bees, including mason bees. We also sell mason bee houses, replacement tubes, and information on attracting them to your yard.

There are so many different types of mason bees houses that you can buy to provide nesting tubes for these important native pollinators.

Things that you can do to Protect our Pollinators:

  1. Grow organic! If you use organic sprays, use them ONLY after dusk when the pollinators have stopped flying.
  2. Lawn chemical are deadly to bumblebees and other ground nesting bees.
  3. Plant lots of flowers. Pollinators are attracted to large blocks of flowers, so always use groups of 3-5 of the same plant together.
  4. Plant flowers for every month of the growing season. Native pollinators fly very early in the spring and very late in the fall.
  5. Early spring bulbs are really important for our native pollinators.
  6. Plan your late garden- flowers in late September, October, and November are REALLY important!
  7. Leave some wild areas in your yard.
  8. Allow clover and other flowering weeds to grow in any lawn that you have- and reduce as much lawn as you can.
  9. Leave plant stems up in the winter for cavity nesting bees. Don’t cut them down until early spring when the pollinators have begun flying.
  10. Don’t leave bright lights on all night as it affect night-pollinating moths and bats.

You do not have to have a large yard to help our pollinators. Grow flowers, lots of them, whether it be in a garden bed, woven into your veggie garden, in hanging baskets, or containers on your deck, porch, or patio.