If you plant it, they will come. The best thing we can do for pollinators is to plant plants! It’s as simple as that.

Tonkadale Greenhouse bee on nicotaniaTake a minute to think about all of the unused land and grass wastelands in our community … roadsides and ditches, massive expanses of perfectly manicured turf grass, unwanted or abandoned lots in undesirable industrial areas. These might all be great places to plant food sources and sanctuary for pollinators. There was an article not long ago that talked about the drastic amount of prairie land and native spaces we are losing in the Midwest. The author had a simple solution. What if every homeowner planted 25 percent of their yard with native plants and vegetation for pollinators? The results would be astounding.

Besides planting plants, here are a few easy things you can do right now to protect and encourage pollinators in your yard:

  1. Reduce or STOP using insecticides to kill pests. If you do use chemicals, remember, the label is the law. If a little bit is good, more is not better.
  2. Become aware of the pollinators in your yard.
  3. Leave and create natural/undisturbed areas in your yard – don’t cut all of your plants back in the fall.
  4. Plant nectar and pollen-rich plants in your gardens for all seasons. Pollinators need sugars and protein just like us. Biodiversity is best.
  5. Establish and protect suitable nesting sites for insects and pollinators
  6. Provide a water source – leave some ground uncovered so mud puddles can form
  7. Provide nest building materials for pollinators i.e. tree resins for bees

Each pollinator has specific color and shape requirements.

Pollinator

Bats

Bees

Beetles

Birds

Butterflies

Flies

Moths

The Wind

Color of Bloom

Dull white, green or purple.

Bright white, yellow, blue, whitish blue/whitish violet – don’t see red.

Dull white or green.

Scarlet, orange, red or white.

Bright colors, including red or purple.

Pale and dull to dark brown or purple; flecked w/translucent patches.

Pale and dull red, purple, pink or white.

Dull green, brown or colorless; petals absent or reduced.

Pollinator

Bats

Bees

Beetles

Birds

Butterflies

Flies

Moths

Flower shape/characteristics

Nocturnal with a good sense of smell. Flowers open at night, musty smell.
Large and sturdy. Bat inserts head, licks nectar or pollen.

Landing patterns guide bees to long, narrow floral tubes and a landing platform.

Flowers on the ground for easy location. May smell rotten.

Have a good eyesight, but poor sense of smell.
Bright color, but lack smell. Petals are recurved or out of the way

Good vision, weak sense of smell.
Flowers in clusters/composite blooms to provide landing platform.
Individual flowers in cluster are tubular

Strong, rotten smell.

Nocturnal with a good sense of smell. Flowers open and visible at night. Strong perfume exuded at night.

Tonkadale Greenhouse bee on dillThe plants you choose plant should be pleasing to you and the aesthetics and function of your garden. A selection of herbs, vegetables, annuals and perennials are all fine candidates. Here is a great resource to reference:

The University of Minnesota Bee Lab: www.beelab.umn.edu

Pollinators of Native Plants by Heather Holm: www.pollinatorsnativeplants.com/

Living Landscapes of MN:  http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs142p2_022410.pdf

Let’s end with these parting words: “Stop thinking of holes in your leaves as damage. Think of them as evidence that you are feeding your friends.”

Plant the Planet!