All Posts   Posted:   February 2, 2016 by Nicole Forbes - Dennis' 7 Dees Education

In addition to their beauty, pollinators provide crucial links in our environments by moving pollen between flowers and ensuring the growth of seeds and fruits. In fact, one-third of the food eaten in the US is pollinated by insects; honeybees are responsible for 80% of the job. The 4,000 species of native bees in North America are affected by changes in our landscapes, especially the loss of potential nesting sites and possible exposure to pesticides.  In many urban landscapes, a desire for neatness has resulted in the removal of bare ground, dead trees or limbs, and untidy corners of tall grass – all important nesting sites for bees.  In addition to providing nest sites for native bees and reducing pesticide use, offering wildflower-rich habitat is the most important action one can take to support pollinators at home.

Native plants, which are adapted to local soils & climates, are usually the best sources of nectar and pollen for native pollinator populations. Incorporating native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees into your landscape promotes local biological diversity and provides shelter and food for a wide array of wildlife.

Here are some helpful tips to maximize your impact when planning a pollinator friendly garden:

  • Most pollinator-friendly plants prefer full-sun sites so consider that first.
  • Choose a diversity of plants with overlapping and sequential flowering times to provide food for pollinators throughout the seasons.
  • Larger patches of habitat plantings are better than small plots but even a small container garden can attract and support pollinators.
  • Use clusters of one species grouped together rather than individual plants scattered through the garden; if space allows, plant multiples of the same species within a few feet of one another.

Some of our favorite Pacific Northwest native plants for pollinators are:

Bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) & Riverbank lupine (Lupinus rivularis)

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium):

Attracts long-tongued bees like mason and bumble bees

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum):

Attracts mason and bumble bees

California lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus):

Host plant for pale tiger swallowtail butterfly

Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana):

Host plant for western checkerspot butterfly

Salal (Gaultheria shallon):

Attracts bumble bees

Douglas spirea (Spiraea douglasii):

Attracts bumble bees

Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa):

Host plant for monarch butterfly, high in nectar

 

Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis):

Significant for honey bees & late season native bees

Douglas aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum):

Visited by woodland skipper butterfly & leafcutter bees

 

Orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are popular with gardeners for many reasons including their docile, non-aggressive nature, efficient pollination efforts, small range, tolerance of cold & wet spring weather and wide availability. They are a North American native pollinating bee that is incredibly effective with early spring crops like cherry, plum, Asian pear, raspberry & blueberries. They can work in cooler, wetter weather than honeybees and are not aggressive. The adults emerge from hibernation when daytime temperatures average 50 degrees or above (mid-February in warmer areas to late May in cooler climates & higher elevations). They are active for 4-6 weeks collecting pollen and laying eggs before the adults die in the heat of summer. Nesting tubes full of hibernating mason bee adults can be purchased at our garden centers as well as empty tubes for your growing bee population at home. They can be added to home-made or store-bought nesting boxes in your garden or just allow them to nest in hollow stems & holes in trees or wood piles. Just one or two bees are enough to pollinate an entire fruit tree!

Lend a hand to the bees this year by reducing pesticide usage through organic practices, bolstering their numbers with a mason bee nesting box and planting some of the native pollinator-attracting plants mentioned above. Our garden centers will be filling up soon with lovely natives as well as non-natives specially marked as pollinator attractors. For more information on bees and other native pollinators check out the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; become a Xerces society member for regular updates.

In addition to their beauty, pollinators provide crucial links in our environments by moving pollen between flowers and ensuring the growth of seeds and fruits. In fact, one-third of the food eaten in the US is pollinated by insects; honeybees are responsible for 80% of the job. The 4,000 species of native bees in North America are affected by changes in our landscapes, especially the loss of potential nesting sites and possible exposure to pesticides.  In many urban landscapes, a desire for neatness has resulted in the removal of bare ground, dead trees or limbs, and untidy corners of tall grass – all important nesting sites for bees.  In addition to providing nest sites for native bees and reducing pesticide use, offering wildflower-rich habitat is the most important action one can take to support pollinators at home.

Native plants, which are adapted to local soils & climates, are usually the best sources of nectar and pollen for native pollinator populations. Incorporating native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees into your landscape promotes local biological diversity and provides shelter and food for a wide array of wildlife.

Here are some helpful tips to maximize your impact when planning a pollinator friendly garden:

  • Most pollinator-friendly plants prefer full-sun sites so consider that first.
  • Choose a diversity of plants with overlapping and sequential flowering times to provide food for pollinators throughout the seasons.
  • Larger patches of habitat plantings are better than small plots but even a small container garden can attract and support pollinators.
  • Use clusters of one species grouped together rather than individual plants scattered through the garden; if space allows, plant multiples of the same species within a few feet of one another.

Some of our favorite Pacific Northwest native plants for pollinators are:

Bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) & Riverbank lupine (Lupinus rivularis)

Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium):

Attracts long-tongued bees like mason and bumble bees

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum):

Attracts mason and bumble bees

California lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus):

Host plant for pale tiger swallowtail butterfly

Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana):

Host plant for western checkerspot butterfly

Salal (Gaultheria shallon):

Attracts bumble bees

Douglas spirea (Spiraea douglasii):

Attracts bumble bees

Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa):

Host plant for monarch butterfly, high in nectar

 

Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis):

Significant for honey bees & late season native bees

Douglas aster (Symphyotrichum subspicatum):

Visited by woodland skipper butterfly & leafcutter bees

 

Orchard mason bees (Osmia lignaria) are popular with gardeners for many reasons including their docile, non-aggressive nature, efficient pollination efforts, small range, tolerance of cold & wet spring weather and wide availability. They are a North American native pollinating bee that is incredibly effective with early spring crops like cherry, plum, Asian pear, raspberry & blueberries. They can work in cooler, wetter weather than honeybees and are not aggressive. The adults emerge from hibernation when daytime temperatures average 50 degrees or above (mid-February in warmer areas to late May in cooler climates & higher elevations). They are active for 4-6 weeks collecting pollen and laying eggs before the adults die in the heat of summer. Nesting tubes full of hibernating mason bee adults can be purchased at our garden centers as well as empty tubes for your growing bee population at home. They can be added to home-made or store-bought nesting boxes in your garden or just allow them to nest in hollow stems & holes in trees or wood piles. Just one or two bees are enough to pollinate an entire fruit tree!

Lend a hand to the bees this year by reducing pesticide usage through organic practices, bolstering their numbers with a mason bee nesting box and planting some of the native pollinator-attracting plants mentioned above. Our garden centers will be filling up soon with lovely natives as well as non-natives specially marked as pollinator attractors. For more information on bees and other native pollinators check out the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; become a Xerces society member for regular updates.