By: Fiona Smeaton
We are excited to share with you ways in which you can support native pollinators and monitor them within your yard. These pollinators are essential for all of the diversity of plant species we enjoy in our gardens. Everything from beautiful annual and perennial flowers, blooming shrubs and the majority of fruits and vegetables that thrive in Portland are dependent upon insects for pollination.
Native pollinators are declining at an alarming rate. They are facing combined threats, most notably from habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. One of the best ways that we can help these important species is by fostering biodiversity in our gardens. If enough gardeners come together to devote even some of their space to pollinators, we can create a network of suitable environments that will enrich our gardens, our neighborhoods and our lives!
Did you know?
Bees need water. Honeybees especially require water to cool down their hives. Providing water in your garden will encourage these bees to regularly visit your flowers. (Make sure the water dish is shallow enough or that you provide a ramp for them to climb out)
Mixing native plants with ornamentals can increase the diversity of pollinators in your garden. Many of the pollinators in this region have coevolved with PNW native plants. Look for the Cornell Farm native plant sticker on these pots.
A bee will spend the majority of their life in the nest. This means that providing nesting materials, in addition to floral resources, are essential to supporting native insect pollinators. The majority of native bees nest in the ground while others use cavities, leaves or grasses as nesting materials. It is also beneficial to incorporate ornamental grasses to provide additional resources and emulate their native prairie habitat.
A diversity of flowers will promote the most diverse of pollinator populations. Think critically about the color and shape of flowers you are choosing as some will attract hummingbirds and others will attract bees. These flowers will be the most attractive to bees and butterflies.
Hummingbirds prefer red and orange flowers with a tubular shape.
Become a citizen scientist...
The Xerces Society provides an abundance of materials for the informed gardener to observe the native bees in their yard. This Maritime Monitoring Protocol found on The Xerces Society website allows you to group the wide diversity of bees in this region into ten categories. By following this protocol you can observe the bees visiting your garden and strategize ways in which to increase their diversity.