Creating a pollinator patch
We hear a lot about pollinators in the news and how populations of bees, butterflies and other insects are in decline. The decline is mostly due to habitat loss and pesticide use. Pollinators need two things to survive: somewhere to nest and flowers to gather nectar and pollen from for food.
Seventy-five percent of all flowering plants depend on animal pollinators for reproduction. Additionally, 1/3 of our food production relies on pollinators. Pollinators provide valuable environmental services to our earth and billions of dollars of services to our food production. It is important we protect them by creating habitat and not using pesticides.
The good news you can help in your own yard. Changing only 5% of your lawn to pollinator friendly plants makes a huge difference. These pollinator “patches,” create habitat throughout urban and suburban areas and provide vital food and nesting areas. Many pollinators such as the endangered rusty patch bumblebee are seeking refuge in suburban and urban areas. The Twin Cities metro area is one of few places where the rusty patch bumblebee can still be found with some regularity. Creating a pollinator patch in your yard could help prevent an extinction.
What to plant
Planting a pollinator patch may require removing grass and will require preparing the area for planting. The biggest question is often “what to plant?” Here are three resources that tell you exactly what plants help pollinators. Find ones that match your sun, shade and soil conditions. Make sure to plant some grasses too. Pollinators use those for shelter and nesting sites.
- Heather Holm, local bee scientist, plant posters This site has great documents listed plants for pollinators based on soil conditions, sun or shade, etc.
- University of Minnesota Bee Lab’s plants for pollinators document
- Bring back the pollinators site by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency