How To Create A Pollinator-Friendly Garden
You don’t have to be a beekeeper or an advanced gardener to create a pollinator-friendly garden. Often some small adjustments to your garden can go a long way in supporting nature’s little helpers. We’ve put together a list of affordable gardening hacks that will turn your garden into a pollinator hang-out.
1. Beneficial Plants For Pollinators
The type of flowers and vegetables you plant play a big part in how pollinator friendly your garden is. If there isn’t any nectar available, the chances are slim to none that bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects will make it their new home. An easy way to start is to introduce (white) clover to your garden. The nectar of this plant is a hit with bees and it’s an easy grower, doing well in most soils and requiring very little maintenance.
Other popular flowers you can incorporate that attract pollinators are: lavender, cosmos, borage, poppies, nasturtium, alyssum and echinacea. Or add a sprinkling of Sunflowers. The height of these majestic plants is one of the main reasons why they are so irresistible to bees. They are easy to spot and the nectar is easily accessible.
Try planting flowers that bloom in different seasons to provide a food source year round. We recommend planting clusters of the same flowers in one area. This will help the bees save energy while collecting the nectar and increases their reward. Keep in mind that honeybees only collect pollen from one type of flower at a time while out on a flight.
Next to a large variety of flowers you can also consider planting herbs and vegetables. This is a great food source for the bees, and your family reaps the benefits too. They particularly love cucumber, leek, mint, coriander, squash, garlic, chives and fennel. Keep in mind that these vegetables need to get to the flowering portion of their development in order to provide the bees with food.
See a full list of beneficial plants for bees here.
2. Nesting Places
You can play an active roll in the reproduction of pollinators by giving them a safe place to nest. There are a lot of gentle bees that are looking for a home to lay their cocoons in. Take mason bees for example: these solitary bees surround their cocoons with mud after laying them to protect them from predators. This, and the fact that they don’t have honey resources to protect, makes them non aggressive. An outstanding pollinator to add to a family garden. You can get an observation mason bee house which allows you to view the bees up close while they nest, something kids and adults alike can enjoy. Alternatively (or as well as!), you could opt for an insect hotel. These nesting places will host everything from mason bees in the spring and leafcutter bees in the summer, to butterflies, ladybugs and other beneficial insects.
Do you have some scrap wood left over? Try building your own nesting places. This makes for a fun afternoon and keeps it affordable and eco friendly.
3. Natural Pest Control
If you want pollinators to settle in your garden, it’s time to get rid of harmful pesticides. To keep the bees and other pollinators happy and healthy you can resort to DIY pest control. Ask your friends what their tricks are. Together you can probably come up with lots of natural ways to keep insects from eating your delicious vegetables and herbs. Our favorite ones: surrounding plants with eggshells and coffee grinds to keep snails away. Another option is getting bee friendly plants that discourage aphids, such as marigolds, fennel or cilantro, or placing a small plate of beer in your garden. The sweet aroma of beer will distract the snails from the other goodies growing in your garden. Be creative!
4. Provide A Water Source
As simple as it sounds, adding a water source to your garden is a big help! Most pollinators have difficulty landing in rivers, lakes and even bird baths. Adding a shallow fresh water source will provide them with that extra bit of energy they need to make it back to their nests. A lid of a mason bee jar can be perfect for this. Place it close to known nesting locations or plants with lots of pollinator activity.
5. Learn To Recognize Bumble Bee Nests
Unlike honeybees, bumblebees hibernate. And some of them do this underground, which makes them particularly vulnerable when gardening season starts. They will find a warm spot in your garden to settle down. They are known to nest underneath sheds, in abandoned animal holes, empty birdhouses and even in compost piles. Just keep a careful eye out for them when gardening and they should be just fine where they are.
We hope these tips and tricks will help you get started to create a pollinator-friendly garden. Not only are pollinators fascinating creatures to observe while in the garden, they also provide necessary pollination for your flowers, fruits and vegetables.