I recently became a volunteer at the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refugee, located in Monroe, LA. The Refugee dedicates certain areas to growing native plants and wildflowers. We have been having issues at the Refugee with visitors picking these flowers. I was excited for the opportunity to create a design for buttons, to help visitors understand the flowers are for the pollinators. These buttons were handed out at the Black Bayou 20th Anniversary celebration on June 17th. We will continue to use them and to educate the public about the importance of protecting pollinators.
Pollinators are more than just bees. They can be birds, bats, and other insects. Pollinators are important because they play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction. It’s estimated that one third of the United States crops depend on pollinators (USDA).
You may have heard in news reports over the last few years that pollinator populations have been decreasing due to habitat loss and chemical usage. Fear not, because there are simple things you can do to help the pollinators.
Provide a Nesting Habitat.
Casey and I try and make our yard and garden friendly to pollinators. We have an “unusable” area in our yard. It’s a section of our backyard that we do not mow, to let the natural grass and plants grow. Which is a simple way to help your local pollinators.
Different pollinators require different types of homes. Leaving untreated wood in your yard is one way to provide shelter to certain types of pollinators, like carpenter bees. Some pollinators will also nest in shrubs or trees.
Plant a Pollinator Friendly Garden.
You can also create your own pollinator sanctuary in your yard by doing a few things. First, research native plants and pollinators for your area. Then plant them in your yard. It might be a little more work, but try to have different plants that will bloom throughout the year to keep your pollinators happy! This will provide nectar and pollen for the duration of the growing season.
To help even further you can set out a small water container, or bird bath, for the pollinators to drink from. Just make sure there is a way for them to get out in case the container is too deep.
Avoid or Limit Pesticide Use.
Pesticides should be used if you have a pest problem, not as a preventative. Try to remove pests by hand when tending your garden. You can also encourage native predators with a diverse garden.
If you choose to use a pesticide, read the labeling carefully. You can apply it in the late afternoon when most pollinators are not as active. It’s also best to start with the lowest dose first, and to make sure it is only applied in the needed area.
If you are already leaving a portion of your yard un-mowed, and have planted native plant species, then good job! Your yard is on it’s way to being a pollinator sanctuary!
If your garden meets the right requirements, you can certify your garden as a pollinator habitat with the National Wildlife Federation by clicking HERE – Every certification in June through the NWF will be eligible to win one of two summer bee nesting houses. The bee houses come equipped with a reusable nesting house, nesting tubes, and a humidifier to store bee cocoons over the winter, and a full guide on setting up your bee house!
I would love to hear what other ideas you all have for helping the pollinators. Please leave a comment below.