Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Preparing Pollinator Habitat
We can help to provide for the pollinators by being aware that they need food, water, habitat, and places to breed and develop their offspring. Many of the pollinators have specific food and protected habitat requirements for their developing offspring. We can rapidly increase the pollinators in our lawns, gardens, orchards, and farms by leaving margins of “weedy,” un-mowed ground, water sources, plants, like milkweed, for larvae to feed upon, and nesting places. Blue orchard bees, or mason bees, are one of the easily attracted and highly effective native pollinators in North America. In the winter, when our honey bee activity is at a minimum, we prepare nesting areas for blue orchard bees, bumble bees, and other solitary bees. Blue orchard bees lay their eggs in holes in wood drilled by beetles or in the hollow stems of plants with pithy centers. Nesting tubes may be fashioned from bamboo canes or by drilling holes in untreated wood or dead trees. In the picture, Rita is drilling 5/16 inch holes in the trunk of a cottonwood tree that was struck by lightning. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has a new fact sheet for building and maintaining nest sites for tunnel nesting bees at http://www.xerces.org/.