Pollination is the process of moving pollen from the male anthers of a flower to the female stigma of a flower to achieve fertilization. Some plants are able to pollinate themselves, but many require assistance from insects. For example, squash, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, apples, peaches, citrus, cherries, and nuts all need help from friendly pollinators. In fact, 80% of our planet’s crop species require pollination to set seed, and an estimated one out of every three bites of food is due to the work of animal pollinators. Without this method of reproduction, we clearly could not enjoy many of the fruits and vegetables that we have come to love.
Attracting bees, butterflies, moths, and other pollinating insects to your garden is very beneficial. Not only does increasing the number of pollinators improve your yields, it makes your vibrant garden feel even more alive and beautiful. Here are some tips to attract and keep pollinating insects in your garden:
- Provide an inviting habitat. If you provide food and water, pollinators will come and stay. Plant a variety of flowers, fruits, and vegetables that blossom throughout the year. This will supply pollinators with a steady, long-term pollen source. You can provide butterflies with a nectar feeder that will attract them to your yard. Pollinators also need a reliable water source, such as a bird bath or something as simple as a slowly dripping hose.
- Do not use pesticides. Not only do pesticides kill the bad bugs, they kill the good bugs too! Certain pesticides have been linked to colony collapse disorder (CCD) in bees. The good bugs need to be protected and cannot live where plants have been sprayed with poison.
- Grow plants they are attracted to. Pollinators like flowers of various colors and shapes. Plant flowers in sunny spots since most pollinators will only feed in the sun. Butterflies and bees also prefer blossoms from native plants. We have patches of wild clover throughout our yard and once thought of it as a nuisance. We realized the bees love the blossoms, so we have let it flourish, and it attracts many bees to our property.
- Create a house. Honeybees are social and nest in groups, but other bees, such as mason and leafcutter bees, are solitary. These solitary bees often build their nests in soil or dead branches. Provide an undisturbed section of your yard for these bees to nest in the ground. Also you can buy or build them a house. Here are plans for a DIY mason bee hotel.
Follow these tips and your garden will surely be buzzing this spring!