Native Pollinators

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 pollinatornative 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.

Native pollinator house

Native pollinator house

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.

Some of the suggested native plants that can help provide food for native pollinators in our area are:  Columbine, Golden Alexander, Pussy Willow, Heliopsis, Monarada, Liatris, and Joe Pye Weed.

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. 🙂

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The State of New Hampshire purchases their native seeds and plugs from a variety of sources including:

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If you are interested in a Master Gardener program, here is a link to our local information – UNH Cooperative Extension.

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Additional Information:

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About Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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5 Responses to Native Pollinators

  1. I have know about the bee problem for awhile now but didn’t know about bee houses. I do know one thing…bees love Rose of Sharon bushes…I suppose because mine are normal and not some hybrid or something …but I had a lot of bees around last year and they were quite welcome ! 🙂 I always wondered where they were going though, as in…where was their hive; that sort of thing

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  2. Grandma Kc says:

    A few years ago when I grew giant sunflowers the bees were just amazing to watch! They would get covered in yellow dust! I’ve noticed that they are attracted to the lavender, too. None of them seem the least bit interested in my lilies. I see a few on the plumerias but not many.
    Oh I wish I could grow pussy willows!! I remember in Michigan when they would go to seed and turn yellow and the bees just loved it…..

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  3. Joyce says:

    I am reminded of how I’d anxiously check pumpkin blossoms my grandkids and I planted a few years back. I was looking for bees, and what a happy sight when they finally arrived!
    We do leave fallen trees in the woods behind our house and I have a majestic pussy willow tree. The only other way I could help is to tend foliage identified as harmful to bees. Believe me, those would be dead in a week under my “tutelage!”
    I love reading posts like this and seeing the success others have with gardening!

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  4. The bees in my garden absolutely love squash blossoms. I’ve seen them so full of pollen inside a flower that they could barely fly. I’ve also freed a few from older squash flowers that had closed up before the bee could escape. They also love honeysuckle, salvia, gaura & dayliles.

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  5. The situation with bees and other pollinators is worrisome. I noticed fewer bees last year than in the past. Anise hyssop is another plant the pollinators love.

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