YOU can make your own lawn a pollinator paradise. If you’ve got any size green space around your home, you can help bring pollinators to your area. Here are four simple ways to make that happen.
Build it and they will come
It’s simple. If you plant pollinator-friendly plants, the many varieties of pollinators will find them.
If your lawn is like the green area above, you probably have zero bees in your yard. This is a picture taken of one of our fields. Dave W. explains that we keep it this way to minimize any growth on the south fence. It looks much like any other green lawn (except it doesn’t really need to be mowed). There is no bug life out here except grasshoppers who thrive on hot open sandy areas.
Now, take a look at this picture taken just across a tiny access road. It’s a field that has been allowed to grow naturally. It has a variety of wildflowers, bushes, moss, trees, and other things that grow in northern Minnesota. This section of our field is alive with all sorts of bees, butterflies, and other insects (yes, including grasshoppers). In other words, without a habitat that supports the insects you want, you won’t get those insects to live there!
Plan for the Full Season
But, it’s just not enough to sprinkle a native mix of seeds early in the spring and hope for the best (although, that’s a good start!) If you plan it out properly, you can help feed your pollinator friends through the entire year through fall in central Minnesota (can’t forget that we only get a short growing season here).
Diversity is key, here. You can’t expect a robust pollinator population to grow if all you give them are one type of food. Using different trees, flowers, and bushes that blossom at different times in the season will help bring all sorts of pollinators to your yard all season long!
The wonderful people at the Xerces Society have put together different pamphlets keyed to different geographic locations that will tell you what plants to plant and, more importantly, when to plant them. Start with them. They’re great!
Not all Pollinators are Bees
Bees are ubiquitous in our culture when it comes to pollination. The image of beekeepers
in white suits tending hives to collect precious honey goes hand in hand with the thought of pollination. However, there are many more critters that bumble from blossom to blossom that aren’t, in fact, bees.
Other insects, like wasps, moths, butterflies, flies, and beetles are prolific pollinators. However, did you know that there are over 1,500 types of vertebrates like birds and bats that serve as pollinators also? Hummingbirds are probably the most famous pollinator bird, but there are many others. Also, check out the long-nosed bat can also help in your garden.
Provide Nesting Spots for Solitary Bees
The vast majority of solitary bees nest in the ground. They do this to keep their commute short to their food supply. If you provide a sunny, flat area of bare ground near your gardens, this will meet the needs for solitary nesting bees. They like to dig tube-like tunnels if there are not pre-made holes already dug. So keep the mulch to a minimum near your blossoms to allow them to dig. However, if you have some holes dug in wooden logs or something similar, they’d be happy to use that instead. It’s all about meeting the needs of the the most likely pollinator.