It’s the middle of National Pollinator Week. We’re headed for the heart of summer and peak pollinator activity. I hope things are buzzing, fluttering, and chirping at your house these days. They are around here. Spring and early summer are my favorite seasons with pollinators scouting out and feasting on our garden and local wildland flowers. Each bloom contributes to the lives and renewal of some of the most valuable and vulnerable species on the planet.
So, I was dismayed when my daughter told me someone was stealing sunflowers from her wildflower/pollinator patch. We decided her best response was to turn upset into an educational opportunity. She put up a poster I’d designed for an event and added a Please Don’t Steal sign. We made packets of California poppy, sunflower, and hollyhock seeds she collected last year and put them in a “Take one” box in her front yard. The neighbors were delighted.
Why not start a pollinator planting effort in your neighborhood? Download the poster below to post in your yard, at school, your website or for other non-commercial applications.
TIPS ON CARING FOR POLLINATORS FROM THE GROUND UP
1) leave open dirt for ground-nesting bees;
2) plant the right plants (natives, if available) in the right place. Know soil, water & light needs plus seasonal habits. Plant varieties to supply pollen and nectar resources early spring into early winter;
3) plant and plan for fall: leave leaf piles for bees, moths, and butterflies. These support nesting/larval stages and hiding and overwintering opportunities, as do logs and hollow cut stems for some bee species;
4) eliminate pesticides: look for natural alternatives. Hoverfly larvae eat thousands of aphids, small caterpillars, thrips, scale, and tiny mites. Birds need loads of insects to raise their young;
5) reduce pollution by reducing or eliminating leaf-blowing: see #3 and * below; switch to a broom, replace gas with electric or battery-powered blowers and mowers; Mow less often;
6) provide a safe water source, spring mud for Mason bees, nutrient-rich “puddling” ponds for male butterflies;
7) remember trees – bees, butterflies, and birds use them for food and nesting. Willow is important in early spring for native bees. Some Bumblebees use bird nest boxes.
Each year, add and learn a little bit more. No effort is too small.
*Running a top-selling leaf blower 1 hour equals emissions from 1100 miles in a 2016 Toyota Camry. Small non-road engines account for 81% as much smog-producing nitrogen oxides and reactive organic gasses as sedans (non-SUV/light truck). California Air Resources Board