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Please Help by Sharing What You Do to Help Our Pollinators  RSS feed

 
garden master
Posts: 2053
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Pollinators are the bees, butterflies, moths, bats, birds and various insects that, in the course of collecting food from various plants, also pollinate them, which is essential to producing fruit and vegetables.

Sometimes we tend to forget about the smaller things in life that really do make the world go round. Just as wildlife has suffered, so have the birds, bees, butterflies and other insects. Pollinators must have two things in their habitat: somewhere to nest and flowers to gather nectar and pollen.

Do you provide food for the Pollinators?

In many landscapes, people have started using ornamental rather than flowers so many flowers are only found on roadsides,  field edge or in wild areas. If you provide flowers, you are improving the environment for pollinators. This foraging area not only helps the bees and butterflies that pollinate these plants, but also results in beautiful garden.

Insects such as bees and butterflies are needed for producing much of our food the majority of our fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Many of these pollinators, especially wild ones such as bumblebees, are in trouble.

What can you do?

1. Reduce or eliminate insecticide use.

2. Diversify plantings. Plant flowers and other pollinator-friendly plants — flowers, shrubs, trees, herbs and grasses — everywhere.
Plant a mixture. Pollinators need a variety of plants that bloom at different times (early, mid-season and late) and with different flower types, such as tubular or composite, like sunflower

3. Provide nesting habitat.  This could be trees, shrubs or nest boxes.

4. Provide clean water. Put the water in a shallow dish, bowl or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.













 
pollinator
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Eliminate mowing. Provides food and habitat. Mowing also kills caterpillars, etc.

Easiest thing to do, cause you do nothing.
 
Posts: 413
Location: Middle Georgia
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Anne Miller wrote:
Provide clean water. Put the water in a shallow dish, bowl or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.



I planted Echinacea this year and boy did the pollinators love it! One bumble bee was sleeping under the flower.  When I looked carefully I realized each Echinacea flower is actually made up of several dozen tiny yellow flowers that bloom over a period of several weeks. That is what keeps the pollinators coming back again and again.

Next spring I want to add a little pool (ideally with a solar bubbler) to attract dragon flies to the vegetable garden. I watched a video on how dragon flies (and damsels) are awesome pest predators and the water source attracts them. They lay eggs in pools and their aquatic babies eat mosquito larva.

 
pollinator
Posts: 10274
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Joined the Xerces Society:  https://xerces.org/

Planting about an acre total of native seeds this season.  Starting tomorrow to work on a display Pollinator Habitat along the county road, which will feature this nifty sign from the Xerces Society:



I will update with progress on this project.
 
pollinator
Posts: 554
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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I always have several pounds of native wildflowers, clovers, & buckwheat in my car with my beekeeping gear. Sometimes bird seeds too. Any bare spot of soil I see anywhere gets some. I throw quite a bit around every time I visit the apiaries, go hiking, or just wander around natural areas. I plant it in & around my vegetable gardens. I spread it anywhere it seems suitable to do so. Which is pretty much everywhere. It's almost a daily ritual. I have some hummingbird feeders but they much prefer the flowers in the garden. I see many pollinators of all sorts every day. Some of my bees are in an unused pasture that is part of a native species & animal restoration project. Next year that pasture & the surrounding area will get a huge wildflower boost from that organization. I'm learning about breeding & releasing butterflies & hope to pursue that next year.

Pesticides. Not in my world. I persuade people each & every year to stop doing that. Give them a sample then ... You like real honey eh? Then please stop killing the bees. It works.
 
Anne Miller
garden master
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Thanks everyone for sharing.  I found these today, they are neat idea!








 
pollinator
Posts: 187
Location: PNW
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Mike, where do you get your seeds from?

Anyone have any suggestions for having standing water that doesn't breed mosquitoes?  That's a real problem with my homestead.
 
pollinator
Posts: 434
Location: SF Bay Area
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In my mild climate, I try to provide year round food sources. In the case of hummingbirds that typically means various Salvias, the flower shape is perfect for them and we have so many that do so well. A winter favorite is Pineapple Sage or Salvia elegans. The local hummingbirds fight over my yard.

In pruning, I try not to take all of a plant, like with borage. I wait until another one is blooming, or only cut back half of an old one.

And, I plant a variety of flower types to appeal to different pollinators. The very large bumble bees like large squash blossoms. Small native bees like open blossoms like zinnias. honey bees love thyme.

Since I've been paying attention to all of this, my yard has come alive. Birds, butterflies, dragonflies, bees, I love it.
 
Mike Barkley
pollinator
Posts: 554
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Mike, where do you get your seeds from?  



The clovers & buckwheat comes from a nearby farm co-op. Some wildflowers I get from a TN native landscape place & some I simply collect from the wild. There's often some dandelions included in my seed mix too.
 
Anne Miller
garden master
Posts: 2053
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Sonja Draven wrote:Anyone have any suggestions for having standing water that doesn't breed mosquitoes?  That's a real problem with my homestead.



We change our water every day.  That way it is not standing so any eggs/larva or what ever they are called gets washed out.

Some more inspiration:








 
Posts: 228
Location: Australia, New South Wales. Köppen: Cfa (Humid Subtropical), USDA: 10/11
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In addition to introduced trees and shrubs that regularly flower, and herbs like Rosemary, we also have several heavy flowering native species in the front and backyard – mainly Callistemon (Bottlebrush), native rock orchid, Banksia and Macadamia. So there's something flowering 365 days a year, inclusive of 'weeds'.

It’s Spring here so the Bottlebrush are in full bloom, attracting bees, moths, birds and too many Flying Fox.

Since we don’t spray, there’s lots of native bees and wasps floating around too. A large proportion of the lot is set aside for native bush garden, so that also provides habitat for the ground-dwelling bees. Mud-dauber wasps build their mud cocoons everywhere as too do the Paper Wasps – mainly under the eaves and do a good job of keeping spiders at bay.

Besides the water containers for the chickens, and a large bird bath, I also leave an old glass vase with a stick sitting in it for bugs to get a drink – the stick allows them to escape if they fall in … it works too! The garden must be healthy, a few months ago there were frogs in the chicken water dish – much to the dismay of the chooks – and there are ones living in the stormwater pits and pipes!
 
Posts: 163
Location: On the plateau in TN
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Almost every thing I have so far is on paper.

2019 season plant to plant nasturiums, french marigold, sunflowers, possibly others.  I currently have a mint growing well in a outside bucket, and possibly a second bucket.  Planted out chives, and Lemon Thyme (two days ago).

Here's two seed packets I purchased that will plant in roughly 5 ft sq beds each.

1910 Edible Beauties:

do I want to keep "seeds" or no

ANNUALS:
Common Arugula Eruca vesicaria   keep
Borage Borago officinalis  keep
Calendula Calendula officinalis ‘Fiesta Gitana’     ?
Bachelor's Button Centaurea cyanus ‘Polka Dot’  no
Florence Fennel Foeniculum vulgare   ?
Basil Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’    keep
Radish Raphanus sativus ‘Cherry Belle’  keep
Signet Marigold Tagetes tenuifolia ‘Starfire’  keep
Nasturtium Tropaeolum minus ‘Whirlybird’    keep

PERENNIALS:
Chives Allium schoenoprasum  I already have
Johnny-Jump-Up Viola tricolor ‘Helen Mount’  ?

1911 precious Pollinators:
ANNUALS:
Borage Borago officinalis
Dill Anethum graveolens   keep
Cosmos Cosmos sulphureus ‘Bright Lights’   in bucket?
Sunflower Helianthus annuus ‘Lemon Queen’   no
Sunflower Helianthus annuus ‘Velvet Queen’    no
Lemon Bee Balm Monarda citriodora    yes I guess
Phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia     ?
Scarlet Sage   Salvia coccinea    no
Marigold Tagetes patula ‘Naughty Marietta’  no
Red Clover Trifolium incarnatum      keep
Zinnia Zinnia elegans ‘California Giants Mix’  in bucket?

PERENNIALS:
Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa   no
Lance-leaved Coreopsis Coreopsis lanceolata   yes some where
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea   no
Smooth Aster Symphyotrichum laeve    no

It will be interesting for me to figure out saving seed or digging up what I would like to keep, and composting end of season the rest.

I saw a cabbage butterfly ambling by my 'garden'.
 
Posts: 3
Location: Minneapolis & McGregor Minnesota
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I posted earlier today about how hugelkulturs provide critical habitat for native bees.  I consider this to be an important contribution everyone with access to a yard can make.  Keep planting flowers!  The hummingbirds and bees were all over my red centered cone flower exactly one minute after I took it out of the car!  Joe Pye Weed provides privacy for you and is a good friend to the pollinators.  That is just one example.  Thyme as ground cover helps.  The University of Minnesota Bee Lab has a ton of information on the subject. https://www.beelab.umn.edu/

Thank you for this important post!!
 
Posts: 86
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Killing two birds with one stone: allow your vegetables to flower. You get seeds and you get beneficial benefits. Parsnip in flower is parasitoid heaven, as are most of the Apiaceae. The name kind of gives it away

Apiaceae are fantastic companions for trees as well. The roots drill into heavy soils allowing drainage and root penetration for other species.

Might be getting a hive here in the next week or so. I've said yes, but people change their mind so hoping the apiarist doesn't.

I use fish for mosquito control, and duckweed/positioning for temperature control. My 'insect water' is an approximately 14 ft stainless steel sink with strategically placed rocks. It uses sunlight to make duckweed which fixes its own nitrogen via bacteria. It gets minerals from litter from the hedge it is beneath. The duckweed is chook food. The bacteria covered litter is compost food. The mossies are fish food. The fish are chook food. The insects drink...

 
Michael Moreken
Posts: 163
Location: On the plateau in TN
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Apiaceae are fantastic companions for trees as well. The roots drill into heavy soils allowing drainage and root penetration for other species. - dc

Diakon radish Raphanus sati var. longipinnatus is a great one too.

 
Posts: 461
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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i have steep banks near the road i used to mow. last spring i killed the grass there then reseeded with various annual and perennial bee and butterfly wild flower mix seed. i also tilled sections of my lawn and seeded more of this wild flower mix. the bees , hummingbirds and butterflies loved them! i planted crocus bulbs this fall so early emerging bumbles have something to eat after snowmelt next spring. i have 15 varieties of fruit that flower from late may to october to feed the bees all season.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 461
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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i also wanted to mention. i have piles of branches on the edge of my property i leave there for the bumbles to winter in. i also buy mason and leaf cutter bee cocoons to put out in the spring and have houses for them to breed in. i collect and overwinterthiere cocoons in my fridge and put them out w/ the ones i bought in the spring. this year was the 1st time all my tubes in my 2 houses were full of cocoons. i made another one to put out next spring. japanese knotweed makes great tubes for them to breed in grows everywhere, and its free! they are easy to split to harvest the cocoons. i cut the sizes that will just fit a pencil in, for the masons and some a little smaller for the leaf cutters. make sure the back of the tube stops at a sealed joint.  i bundle them in small bundles of 4-5 about 6in. long and tape them together then place them in the houses. works great! moutainwestmasonbess.com is the cheapest I've found for getting cocons.
 
Michael Moreken
Posts: 163
Location: On the plateau in TN
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steve bossie wrote:i also wanted to mention. i have piles of branches on the edge of my property i leave there for the bumbles to winter in.



I have huge tree branches, logs, piles of branches, wood chips, ditto in back of my property too.
 
Posts: 20
Location: UK
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I have various year round food sources - lavender, rosemary, thyme, currants, nasturtiums, sunflowers, fruit trees, snowdrops, crocus, hazel, marigolds, buddleia, borage, clover, comfrey, various beans, raspberries, lingonberry, roses, blackberries and night scented plants - jasmine, honeysuckle and stock - to attract night insects and (hopefully) bats.

Whenever I hack back the bamboo I tie a few canes together in a a bundle and put them in discreet corners to make hibernation holes for lone bees.

Compost bins for habitat.

In very hot weather I put out small dishes of water though that’s rarely a problem here - this year was an exception. I’d like to create a wildlife pond to attract dragonflies etc. but am wary of having very little children near it so maybe we’ll build it together as an educational project when they’re old enough.

I have areas of overgrown grass/weeds that provide food sources and habitat though I admit that’s mostly because I don’t like mowing! The plan is to move it more towards wildflower meadow and less an overgrown mess as a compromise between providing a habitat and not annoying the neighbours with their manicured lawns.

SEEDBOMBING! I collect any seed heads I see - poppy, foxglove, borage, marigold, grasses etc and always keep a small bag of them in my pocket. If i see a bare patch of soil I discreetly empty the bag on it.

And no articificial fertilisers, weed killer or pesticides
 
gardener
Posts: 5084
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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We have several acres we have left for nature to take care of.
We use no sprays, or other types of poisons.
All species that we plant flowers and goes to seed (we even plant extra vegetables so we can let some do this for us)
This coming spring we are going to finally start spreading wild flower seeds at the rate of 50 lbs. per spring. (previously we were only putting out around 2 lbs.)
We grow many medicinal and culinary herbs, all are allowed to go to seed unless I need to harvest some for a medicine.
We have a honey bee tree and I stay at least 20 feet from it (not only because I am allergic but because that way the hive stays put)
We have several coyote bushes because they flower very late and that gives all our pollinator friends one last big shot of nourishment, these trees literally buzz at the end of October and into November.
There are many piles of small limbs back in the woods for the bumbles and masons, I counted around 20 nests on my last walk about of the land.
We have many native plants growing and they aren't touched as yet. There are some cover canopy areas that I am thinning for making silvopasture but these are about 300 feet from the "natural side of our property".

There are many water spots, including the animal water troughs that have "ladders" for animals so they can get down in there for a drink and get back out.
We have enough humming and other bird feeders that it takes us about 4 hours to refill them all.
 
Posts: 53
Location: Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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I think I can sum up the majority of posts on this thread using our farm's motto:

More Is More.

We have been ringing our property with cut scotchbroom, twigs, sticks, downed smaller trees that aren't straight enough for garden poles or stakes, and other plant detritus that accumulates on acreage. The piles are for bird and insect habitat.

In front of the piles, I have been planting:
Native perennials such as nodding onion, camas root, cascara trees, nootka rose.

Every summer gets a larger and larger patch of flowers for drying as well as just for looking and for the pollinators - seed heads are broken off in the fall and scattered in front of the piles on the edges of the property: dollar plant, clary sage (2 year plant) sunflowers, cone flowers, echinacea, yarrow, lot's of lavender, agapanthus, etc.

We let lot's of veggies go to flower and seed - best so far has been arugula, beets and radishes and swiss chard.

Building more and more hugelkultur beds - for all the obvious reasons and especially for the animals and to save on water in the coming years as the PNW will be drying out.

We protect our bats!! bat houses have been hung in the forests around the farm.

Hot lips salvia is a great plant that is still sending out red flowers, even just this week.

Hummingbird feeders are kept up all year round, but especially in winter. We have lovely visitors all year.

Big patches of our pasture have been given over to wildflower and wild grass growth. Win for me - less mowing, more pollinators, looks pretty and soft and the snakes love to live in that part of the farm.

We have let the forsythia go crazy - early bloomer and a nice slash of yellow in February or March.

We let our nasturtiums go until they are really really dead. I have found around here (maritime northwest) that the nasturtiums will grow and grow and send out tendrils and unfurl their flowers all the way to December in the right year. And when we get a little warm snap, and the bees wake up all confused and disgruntled, they have instant food and a place to land on the nasturtiums. We locate them all over the farm, although other varmints nip them down in the far reaches.

Garden "clean up" is not really a thing anymore - something I've noticed living on acreage vs the suburbs where I was compelled by our lease agreement to keep things much more "tidy". Things go dormant or dead, seeds are collected, slash is piled up, but it's an ever changing flow - never really an end. It's much more relaxing, at least to me and in my opinion. But I think Permaculture is relaxing.

One thing we have been doing for a longer term project on the farm is harvesting a selective amount of our evergreen trees and planting drought tolerant, fast growing trees, instead - the latest addition being silver drop eucalyptus. Our climate around here is gonna dry out pretty bad in the coming decades and the evergreens are gonna take a hit, so we are trying to diversify with flowering shrubs and trees as well as drought tolerant shrubs and trees that also support pollinators and niche species. Shade is important to all animals, and keeping what water we have where we want it is important, too. Some of the logs get piled up for habitat, some are burned for fuel in our home, some make planks for duck and chicken houses. It all gets used for something, somewhere.



 
Posts: 104
Location: North Coast Dominican Republic
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One surprising thing I learned in the Dominican Republic: honey bees love corn pollen! I never noticed that when I used to plant corn in temperate climes, but my goodness, my corn tassels here get honey bees all over them! And here I always thought corn was wind pollinated, hence the advice to plant in blocks instead of long rows.

A roadside wildflower, which I have heard some locals call fueragrosa, I have identified as a nonnative species, the Siberian motherwort, Leonurus sibiricus. As surprised as I was to find a plant from the cold steppes thriving on this tropical island, I appreciate it; it brings in more species of butterflies and small native bees than any other plant I have found in the area. Plus it is beautiful; I planted it over my dog's grave.
 
Posts: 10
Location: Minnesota zone 4a
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We are growing 12 acres of native prairie and many acres of fruit trees, shrubs and other pollinator friendly plants.

When we first bought our property it was a rundown rye field and horse pasture littered with trash. We saw one bumblebee the first year. Now we see bees of all kinds and many, many birds and butterflies.

It helps to remember that all restoration takes time and little improvements add up.

You can keep track of our progress at www.duffymeadows.com
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He puts the "turd" in "saturday". Speaking of which, have you smelled this tiny ad?
Self-Sufficiency in MO -- 10 acres of Eden, looking for a renter who can utilize and appreciate it.
https://permies.com/t/95939/Sufficiency-MO-acres-Eden-renter
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