Pollinators and Pesticides
How to Protect and Encourage Pollinators
Food. You can begin by planting a bee garden filled with flowering varieties that will attract the bees. This will not only provide habitat and sustenance to the pollinators, but will also help your plants to flower more plentifully. Bees are attracted to most flowering plants, and are especially fond of blue and yellow flowers. Other colors such as purple, white and pink also serve to attract bees. Make sure there are plants that will flower during different parts of the season to keep your garden flourishing throughout the summer and well into fall. This serves to provide a steady supply of nectar and pollen for bees. A diversity of flowers planted is close proximity to each other strongly attract bees. Gardens with 10 or more species of flowering plants attract the greatest number of bees. The best plants are those native annual and perennial wildflowers which naturally grow in your region.
Water. Bees also need sources of water. Water can be provided in very shallow birdbaths or by adding a quarter inch of sand to a large saucer, such as those designed to fit beneath clay flower pots. Fill the saucer so that the water rises about a quarter inch above the sand. Add a few flat stones, some should rise above the water and some should just touch the surface. These stones will allow bees and other insects to drink without drowning. To avoid creating a mosquito breeding site, be sure to change the water at least twice a week.
Housing. Many bees do not live in hives or colonies. By creating an ideal nesting site, you can attract species to nest and hibernate in your garden. Bumblebees, for example, hibernate and nest in abandoned rodent nests, birdhouses, snags and logs. They also are attracted to piles of cut vegetation, compost heaps, and mounds of earth and rubble. Leaving some areas in your garden bare, preferably in a sunny location, provides other ground-nesting bee species areas to dig tunnels into the soil to create nests. Brush piles, dead trees, and some dead branches or dried pithy stems attract stem-nesting bees such as leafcutter bees, while others such as the blue orchard bee prefer to use mud to build their nests.