Last week I attended a Master Gardener refresher course including a session on native pollinators with Amy Papineau, Field Specialist, Merrimack County, NH, Extension.
European honey bees are a $3B per year business. Hives are moved from state to state depending upon crop pollinating needs. Thirty to fifty percent of all honey bee hives are lost each year to colony collapse and pesticides. A MG attending this session had already found four of her seven hives lost this year to the harsh New England winter.
Home and community gardeners depend upon native pollinators to do the necessary pollination work in their vegetable and flower gardens. There are over 4,000 species of native pollinators, and here in NH it is estimated that we have several hundred varieties.
For every native plant there is a native bee looking to feed on nectar for energy and to gather nectar to take back to their nest. Did you know some smaller bees can only travel 50′ before they need food?
The use of Roundup and other pesticides equal crops with no weeds or what they now call weed free agriculture. No weeds = no food for native pollinators.
The use of pesticides also results in dried residue like crystals on plants being taken back to the nest which kills pollinators and disorients others so they can’t make it back from their foraging trip.
Besides a lack of food there is also a lack of habitat. Some of the things we can do to assist is to leave fallen trees, nesting sites and build bee boxes. We border a wetlands, and we leave it the way Mother Nature designs it.
There are all kinds of boxes you can build from very simple to elaborate. If you have children or grandchildren, it can be a fun learning activity.
Native plants allow the pollinators to reach and harvest the nectar. Some nursery plants are unhealthy for pollinators because they have been bred for selection and ornamental characteristics, have less pollen and nectar and are not accessible.
Here’s to more native plantings that attract native pollinators. If you have a plant in your garden that they love, please share so we can all benefit from your gardening experience. 🙂
The State of New Hampshire purchases their native seeds and plugs from a variety of sources including:
- Chief Mountain Farms, Deposit, MD
- Ernst Conservation Seeds, Meadville, PA
- New England Wetland Plants, Inc., Amherst, MA
- New Moon Nursery, Bridgeton, NJ
- North Creek Nurseries, Landenberg, PA – wholesale only
- Prairie Moon Nursery, Winona, MN
- Prairie Nursery, Westfield, WI
- Wildflower Farm, Coldwater, ON, CN
If you are interested in a Master Gardener program, here is a link to our local information – UNH Cooperative Extension.