When most people think of bees, they think of “stinging pests” or maybe “delicious honey-makers” but bees and other bugs are very important for other reasons. Bees and bugs allow plants to fruit by carrying pollen between different flowers. As you may have learned back in Science class, these pollen-carriers are called “pollinators.” For more information about native pollinators, check out this article from the Nation Wildlife Foundation. Without these bugs, the garden will produce no fruit. Thus, it is important to keep the pollinators in mind when planning, planting, and maintaining a garden.
Keeping pollinators in mind can mean adding a few simple things to your garden and removing some hazards. First, choose plants that will flower at different times in the season to insure that there is pollen available throughout the season. Second, pollinators enjoy a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of blooms so a wide variety will attract greater activity. Third, bees and butterflies need a water source; installing a birdbath or a simple and decorative rain-catcher bowl will help pollinators to enjoy their work. Finally, and most importantly, avoiding or eliminating the use of pesticides can help the good bugs to thrive because most pesticides affect more than the targeted species (a great gardening resource).
Gardening for pollinators can also mean changing the style of your garden completely. They like when plants are planted in clumps, rather than individually placed. For example, a field of wildflowers is haven for bees and the garden can emulate the full, bustling atmosphere with mixed wildflowers and clumped butterfly bushes. To most gardeners, the idea of letting your tomatoes become full and clumped sounds like a nightmare and I agree. An easy way to keep orderly vegetables as well as bustling pollinator-attractions is to designate a place in your garden or yard as its own pollinator garden. There, the pollinators gather and thrive and use your garden for spreading healthy pollen. For more information on how you can help, visit the department of Fish and Wildlife’s Pollinator garden website. With the tireless work bees and bugs do for our gardens, they deserve a little more appreciation; keep them in mind!