Building a home for pollinators

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bumble bee

By Brianna Roe

There is one vital part to the summer season that often gets overlooked, and that is the pollinators that make it possible. Without pollinators, we would not have certain types of fruits and vegetables growing in our backyards. Scientists estimate that one in three bites of food was made possible by a pollinator.

Unfortunately, pollinator numbers are on the decline due to lack of habitat and food sources. It is time we all do our part and help make pollinator habitats.

With just a few steps, you can turn an area of your yard into the perfect pollinator habitat.

Flower selection

When selecting flowers to plant in your flower beds, try to stick with flowers native to the area. By selecting native flowers, you are ensuring that the pollinators that live in your backyard are getting the nutrients that they need. Try to avoid hybrid flowers, as they can sometimes have little to no scent or nectar.

When planting flowers, you will want to pick a variety of colors, shapes and plants that will bloom from early spring to late fall. Also try to find flowers that bloom at night to ensure bats and moths get their share of nutrients as well. When selecting flower placement, try to plant flowers in clumps.

Leave the backyard wild

When we begin backyard clean up in the spring, we often go a little overboard. Instead of weeding every space in your flower beds or gardens leave areas of weeds for the bees. Bees enjoy cover, and other pollinators will use it as shelter. If clover grows in your yard or garden area be sure to leave a section of that for the bees as well, clover is one of their favorite treats. Planting an area of milkweed in your garden allows a safe place for monarch caterpillars to nest, and it also provides an additional food source for monarch butterflies.

Avoid pesticide usage

Most of us are guilty of using weed killer in our yards, but certain pesticides can be harmful to pollinators. If you cannot eliminate pesticide usage, dedicate an area in your yard to be pesticide free.

Not only will making these few adjustments to your backyard help the pollinators, but it will also benefit your garden. Attracting more pollinators to your yard helps to promote pollination for flowers and vegetables.

By creating an environment for cross pollination, you are increasing vegetable yield and plant vigor. Secondly, it makes your backyard a beautiful place to be with all the beautiful colors and animals buzzing around.

(Brianna Roe is the agricultural technician for the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District.)

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