Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Create Pollinator Habitat

The native pollinators are declining as well as the honey bees. Both are necessary for the health of the environment and for a large proportion of our food production. One of the major factors behind the decline in native pollinators is the increasing loss of pollinator habitat. Pollinators can usually find all that they need for survival when the natural environment is not disturbed. They require food, water, protective cover, and space, as do all animals. Pollinators also need a place to reproduce and nesting material. Modern agricultural practices often remove pollinator habitat from field margins. Our efforts to clean up the landscape of the cities and suburbs also tend to destroy pollinator habitats. The North American Pollinator Protection Campaign offers valuable information about how to help restore habitat for native pollinators in a curriculum posted at: A suitable habitat for pollinators may be a backyard vegetable garden, a kitchen herb garden, or a landscape planting in which chemicals are avoided.

Today’s photo is partridge pea, a bright yellow flowering plant in the legume family. The legumes, which include peas, beans, locust, mimosa, and redbud trees, and soybeans, are an important family of bee plants. When I found the partridge pea in bloom, it was being worked by several species of solitary bees and a few butterflies. In the photo you can see a solitary bee next to the bright yellow flower. No honey bees were visiting the partridge pea, but soybeans were in bloom in the area. Honey bees will work the plants that offer the greatest rewards in the amount of nectar and the concentration of sugars in the nectar. Partridge pea, once pollinated, produces fine seeds which are eaten by bob white quail. The partridge pea has been propagated to help restore quail habitat.

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