Photo Credit: Alex/phoenix Permaculture Guild
Native bees are more important than ever for pollinating your garden and landscape plants. Honeybees have been the familiar pollinator in most places. Unfortunately, the honeybee population has seriously declined due to mite infestations across the country.
Even though native bees have been rather anonymous workers in the past, they are more important than ever to the environment and our food supply. Without native bees taking up the task of pollination, the farms and gardens of the nation will be far less productive.
You can encourage native bees on your property without worry. Native bees for the most part are docile and most of them do not sting. You can encourage native bees to come and stay with a few simple adaptations to your garden and landscape.
Native Bee Habitat Building
First, providing an inviting habitat for them requires stopping the use of any harmful pesticides in your yard. If you have insect pests, using integrated pest management will help keep your problem pests at a minimum without killing off the bees.
Second, provide proper nesting places. Bees love sun and prefer dry places for nesting. East and South facing nesting spots are the best locations for attracting native pollinating bees.
There are basically two types of pollinator native bees—soil dwellers and wood dwellers. For soil dwellers a sunny patch of un-mown and undisturbed soil will be ideal. Wood nesting bees like to nest in fallen logs, piles of brush and nesting blocks of untreated wood.
Water and food are also needed to make a native pollinator bee habitat complete. Water sources can be as simple as a birdbath or as elaborate as a freshwater garden pool (no chlorine, of course). Mason bees will also need a source of mud.
Native pollinator bees need adequate food sources during the entire growing season, even when your garden crop or landscape plants are past needing pollination. You can do that by providing plants that bloom different times.
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