Summer is right around the corner and everyday it becomes more and more apparent… birds and bees you didn’t notice even a few weeks ago are suddenly happily chirping and flying around beautifully colored flowers with renewed joy and interest… it’s obviously time to sit down with your family and have the talk again… the talk about POLLINATION!
Just to remind you why pollinators are so important
Pollinators help pollinate over 75% of flowering plants, and almost 75% of our crops. They carry pollen from plant to plant as they collect nectar and without them wildlife wouldn’t have as many nutritious berries and seeds and we wouldn’t have blueberries, and coffee… just to name a few! (Just the latter alone makes me want to wear an “I Heart Pollinators” shirt everyday!).1 Simply put, without pollinators Earth’s inhabitants (both human and ecosystem alike) would not survive. So what creatures hold this ever-so-important title? Bats, butterflies, birds, and bees -to name just a few. But it’s truly a team effort -neither plant or pollinator could exist without the other.
There are A LOT of quick and easy ways you can help our pollinators
- Buy native plants for your garden in a variety of shapes and colors. Since there are a variety of bee species in North America alone your garden should be equally diverse. Also, make sure that your plants have diverse blooming seasons so even in the winter you have something beautiful blooming.
- Plant milkweed. By doing so you are providing food for monarch butterfly caterpillars.
- If possible, avoid mulch. Approximately 70% of bees dig nests in the ground to raise their young, and mulch makes it much more difficult for them.
- Install a bee block because by doing so you are giving habitat to bees that nest in pre-existing holes.
- Border your fruit and vegetables with native flowers.
- Try to avoid pesticide use and include plant and herbs that naturally repel “pests”. 2
No Backyard? No Problem!
Lots of people don’t have lush green backyards with manmade watering holes, rows of gardens, and hammock swings (yes, that’s my dream!). I have a small section of a wooden semi-urban balcony, but that doesn’t mean you can’t help pollinators! You can still add pollinator-friendly plants (still researching what’s friendly to your area and grows naturally!) and plant natural food for wildlife on your balcony! To find out more about being a BIG help to our pollinators without BIG space, check out this AMAZING article! 3
Pollinator Challenge Accepted!
We put our money where our mouth is here in the Creatures Division, so for the past month (and moving forward!) we challenged ourselves to HELP OUR POLLINATORS!
But now it’s time for our finale…the last results of our pollinator challenge…but don’t worry, helping pollinators isn’t limited to one month out of the entire year, it’s always the right season to help them! If you are still at the beginning of your journey don’t worry, so am I! Speed doesn’t matter…forward is forward…
“Pollinator CHALLENGE was the truest word that could be used for mine…challenge. Living in a large condominium building with a shared back balcony I decided to break my typical rebellious nature and email the board to find out what, if anything, I could have on my section of our balcony…. and as it turns out, it wasn’t much. I couldn’t hang anything over, or on, the balcony ledge, and I definitely couldn’t hang anything from the overhang, which led me to question what I COULD do…so I researched…
Herbs!! After another email to the board I received confirmation that I could actually plant herbs, (bearing that they did NOT hang on or over my balcony ledge!) After more research I decided on Rosemary, Lavender, and Basil as they all provide good nectar/food sources for pollinators, including bees and butterflies. Late summer and early autumn are difficult times for many of our pollinators to find food, as opposed to spring, when a majority of plants are blooming. Rosemary and Lavender are great choices because they tend to flower later.
It’s important to research before buying herbs, (if your goal is to help out our pollinators rather than just grow some tastiness to add to your food!) Pollinators are attracted to herbs due to their colors and scents, so its important to research before you buy to make sure you’re buying something that will catch their eye, (and nose!)
The downside to my great plan was that, since I live in the Midwest, and we are still living in a season of mostly 50-60 degree temperature highs, I can’t take my herbs outside yet, as in this region they have a May/June transplant date. But, they do require some indoor preparation prior to being transplanted outside, (which I’m in the midst of right now!) My hope is that one beautiful July day I will look out onto my balcony and see beautifully growing herbs with some bee and butterfly friends enjoying their day together. But don’t worry; we’ll be revisiting our pollinating friends this summer with updated results on how all our pollinator challenges are progressing! See you then!”
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