With so much attention given to the plight of the honeybee it is easy to overlook the local native pollinators who visit our yards and gardens alongside their honeybee cousins.
Just like honeybees, native pollinators can benefit from our understanding of their habits and needs and taking steps to ensure a healthy garden environment for them.
Did you know there are over 100 native pollinator species in the
Okanagan alone, and nearly 20,000 worldwide?
Native pollinators are often solitary bees, butterflies and moths who contribute a multitude of benefits to the natural environment, without necessarily providing us with honey and/or pollination services.
Native pollinator species come in a wide array of dazzling colours, shapes and sizes each with their own unique nesting and mating habits.
Let’s take a look at a few you are likely to see in your gardens this summer,
and some of the ways we can provide them a happy home.
ONE OF THE SOLITARY BEE SPECIES GAINING ATTENTION IS THE MASON BEE.
Effective pollinators, with no stinger to cause us any fear, Mason Bees have a short life lasting only 2 months or less. Popular Mason Bee houses, consisting of 1cm tubes, are easy to make and help provide these adorable little bees a space to lay their eggs for the next year. Make sure you place your Mason Bee house on the East side of your home or yard for morning sun, the Mason Bee’s favourite!
FUZZY, GENTLE AND BUZZING LOUDLY IS THE BUMBLE BEE -
another native pollinator found in the Okanagan. Bumble Bees nest underground in small family units, are very unlikely to use their stinger and are successful in pollinating some of the more stubborn flower varieties. They accomplish this task by vibrating the flower to release the pollen – one of the only species of pollinators with the special technique!
To provide nesting sites for Bumble Bees, consider raking leaves and other yard compost into a secluded corner and leaving it for nesting pollinators. For the safety and health of all pollinators, avoid chemical sprays and plants treated with systemic pesticides called Neonicotinoids, proven harmful to honeybees and pollinators.
A FINAL LOCAL POLLINATOR YOU AREN'T SOON TO FORGET IS THE STRIKING GREEN METALLIC BEE
just as the name implies you can identify this bee by its bright green exterior colour!
Planting with pollinators in mind invites us to provide a selection of fragrant blue, purple, and yellow flowers blooming throughout the summer and into the fall, ensuring forage even in the months when most of the flowers are gone.
For Bee-Friendly Gardening tips and inspiration – visit Planet Bee Honey Farm in Vernon BC,