By: Anna Lindquist, Garden Lead and Native Plant Specialist | 08/08/2018
Working at the garden it is impossible to ignore the myriad of pollinators we have buzzing, flying, and swooping around us (including our new Bee mascot!). Many people are only familiar with honey bees as pollinators but, according to the ISDA there are over 400 species of pollinators in Idaho alone! This includes native bees, birds, bats, and other insects. This is exciting because a diversity of pollinators ensures that we continue to have a diversity of plants!
To support pollinators there are some simple things we do here at IBG that you can also do at home, and they all involve creating habitat. First, intentionally plant your garden to ensure that something will be flowering from early spring to late fall for pollinators to forage upon. Pollinators like bumble bees get their start in early spring, so planting early crocuses or a native shrub such as bitterbrush will ensure they start the season off with a ready food source. In addition to food, pollinators need a place to call home. Many insects, including most of our native bees, nest in the ground. Leave a patch of bare ground in your garden and you may soon see tiny holes appear where solitary bees have created burrows. At the end of the gardening season, limit your fall cleanup to help pollinators establish overwintering habitat. In addition to saving you time and effort, keeping leaves on the ground and not cutting back your herbaceous perennials will guarantee pollinators have a place to nest for the winter.
- To read more about pollinators, the IBG Horticulture Staff recommend the following books:
- Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies by The Xerces Society
- Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Beesby Thor Hanson
- A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures with Bumblebees by Dave Goulson
- To get involved in protecting pollinators through science go to Bumble Bee Watch: PNW Bumble Bee Atlas.
- or participate in the PNW Bumble Bee Atlas
To learn more and visit the Idaho Botanical Garden, register for the class, “Plants for Pollinators & Predators” on August 27th and 29th.