Protecting pollinators means not using harmful pesticides. It also means providing welcoming habitat, even in your own backyard. And that's easier than you think!
Be a bee hugger
You can make your backyard a bee sanctuary. (Kids can help!) The secret? Keep it untidy! Chances are you're already doing at least one of these:
- Let veggies bolt and flower. Besides being a great way to witness a plant's full life cycle, you can sit back and watch pollinators at work!
- Collect twigs, bundle them up and leave them outside for bee nesting habitat.
- Leave a patch of ground bare. About 70 per cent of Canada's native bees nest underground.
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Have you noticed a line of little holes in your yard or lawn, about six millimetres (1/4 inch) in diameter? You probably have ground-nesting bees. Unlike honeybees, mining bees are solitary and don't form large, socially organized nests. Their ideal nesting sites are exposed, well-drained soils with little vegetation. Mining bees are not aggressive and rarely, if ever, sting.
Forget about having a manicured lawn. You're providing a home for important pollinators! And don't spread mulch — it covers up their burrows.
Build a bug hotel
Bug or insect hotels attract insects that pollinate or act as natural pest control. They also provide overwintering habitat.
- Place found materials — twigs, plant stalks and old sunflower heads — inside a reclaimed or repurposed box in your garden.
- Build your own birdhouse-sized insect real estate (and piece of art). Fill it with natural materials like bamboo poles, pencil-sized brown paper tubes, small stones, pine cones and twigs.
- Drill holes into an old log. Vary the size of the holes from half to one centimeter (0.2 to 0.4 inches) in diameter.
- See complete DIY bug hotel instructions with images in Garden Made: A Year of Seasonal Projects to Beautify Your Garden and Your Life by Stephanie Rose and in this blog.
What else would you like to know about encouraging pollinators where you live?
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green