Pollination is essential to life. Most of the world’s flowering plants require a pollinator. Yet our pollinator populations are in jeopardy. Thankfully, there is much you can do to help restore these life-giving benefactors by attracting them to your yard!
Why are our pollinating populations declining? One major factor appears to be the use of pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids. (Learn more the impact of these chemicals in the previous post Five Ways You Can Bring Back the Bees.)
Another factor may be the rise in man-made electromagnetic fields, as discussed in Ulrich Warnke’s paper Bees, Birds and Mankind: Destroying Nature by ‘Electrosmog’. According to Warnke,
Animals that depend on the natural electrical, magnetic and electromagnetic fields for their orientation and navigation through earth’s atmosphere are confused by the much stronger and constantly changing artificial fields created by technology and fail to navigate back to their home environments.
Warnke suggests that the present exposures have grave biological implications beyond the bee and bird populations.
The good news is there are numerous ways you can help our pollinators right in your own backyard!
How to attract pollinators to your yard
1. Go Chemical-Free
Resist the urge to use chemicals when addressing weeds, bugs, and other nuisances. Thankfully there are numerous natural solutions such as horticultural vinegar for weeds and diatomaceous earth for pests. (See Diatomaceous Earth – What It Is and How to Use It.) Other natural remedies include insecticidal soaps and/or essential oils.
2. Re-Think Your Lawn
There are attractive alternatives to perfect green grass that allow beneficial insects to thrive in a low-maintenance environment. Consider replacing part of your lawn with flowering plants, clover, or ground cover. Ornamental grasses are low-maintenance and grow well in most soils. Examples include bluestem and blue oat grass. Flowering herbs like oregano and rosemary work well as ground cover. (For more, see How to Maintain a Sustainable Lawn.)
Thankfully, it’s common to use natural landscaping in Arizona. We inherited this lovely island when we purchased our home.
3. Add a Bee Habitat
Mason bees are prolific pollinators. They are far more active than honeybees, visiting 20 times more blooms each day. What’s more, they are far less likely to sting. The male mason bees don’t even have a stinger!
Mason bees lay their eggs in small natural cavities such as woodpecker holes, insect holes, and hollow stems. They will happily nest in man-made cavities with wooden blocks. I recently added a mason bee house to our yard.
Amazon offers a wide range of bee habitats. Find them here.
It’s simple to make a bee bath by adding rocks or pebbles to a dish.The rocks act as a perch to keep the bees safe while they enjoy the water.
4. Consider a Hummingbird Feeder
This is a fun way to enjoy these delightful birds. Their name comes from the fact that they flap their wings so fast (about 80 times per second) that they make a humming noise. Their diet consists of flower nectar, tree sap, insects, and pollen. They are attracted to sugar water with or without color.
Store-bought hummingbird nectar typically contains red dye #40, which is petroleum-derived, so it’s best to make your own or purchase dye-free nectar. (I added color to my sugar water using a natural plant dye from Color Garden.)
5. Grow a Salvia Plant
These plants are among the finest for attracting pollinators. There are a variety of species that thrive in a myriad of environments. Salvia plants include:
- Poppy Mallow
- Evening Primrose
- Oriental Poppies
I planted this Maraschino Bush Salvia because it is drought-tolerant. It continues to attract beautiful butterflies that blend right in with the leaves, as seen below.
6. Try a Fairy Garden Full of Succulents
Succulents are easy to grow, are drought-tolerant and cold-tolerant, and adapt to a variety of climates. Many succulents offer blooms that are attractive to pollinators. And who knows, the fairies may come running too!
Wherever you live, chances are you can offer something to the pollinators in search of nourishment. Why not start today!