REPRODUCTION: Example of diversity of existing sites used by bees and materials used: Mouse nest, Bird houses, Buildings, Fencing, Oregon lawns, Flower pots, grave driveways, tree stumps, sand dunes, creek banks, side of hard packed roads, bare soil ether flat or slopping and sandy to clay.
The Mason Bee lays her eggs in holes naturally formed in trees such as woodpecker holes, or wood that has insect holes, or hollow reeds and stems, for example. Mason bees need mud to plug their nests, so a source needs to be nearby. Other native bees nest in the ground, so some exposed soil in your garden or yard can help them. Places that are what we would usually call messy, broken branches in a pile for example, can be bee habitat so one should leave some undisturbed areas such to help the bees. • Cavity nesting bees: Plant perennial plants and when you cut back the flower stalks at the endof-season leave some of those stalks for easy-to-make bee nests. Use stems with natural nodes on one end (to create a dead end that you can’t see through). o Use a variety of stem diameters, from 1/8 inch for small solitary wasps and yellow-faced bees, to ½ inch for big carpenter bees. o Bundle the tubes together with string or wire and hang them horizontally in a sheltered location. o Depending on where you live, lots of common native plants have perfect stems for this project, such as gumweed (Grindelia spp.) and various sunflowers (Helianthus spp.) in the west. Even the dead stems of invasive weeds such as some of the reeds, and teasel work well. Doing this will give pollinators one more reason to stick around your garden. o Leaves logs and other woody debris including stumps. Place ‘new’ nesting materials out in the winter for the bees to find in the spring. Give the bees at least a year to find this stuff. Some need mud (Mason Bees), Broad leaf plants (leafcutter Bees) • Ground nesting bees: Most prefer bare dirt. Soil can range from hard-packed earth to loose sandy soils. Key is to leave the area as an undisturbed zone. Build a sand pit if your soil is mostly clay. Rock walls. • Overwintering sites: Some OW as free adults, adults in cocoons, pupa, larva. Each have different needs and will be found in different sites within your garden • Old/Established Ecosystem sits good for nesting o Old grasslands o Heathlands o Hedgerows PESTICIDES ISSUES: • A soil-drench application of pesticides can mean less foliage for bees, in addition it could kill off multiple native ground-nesting bee families; seventy percent of our bee are ground nesters. o Heavy reliance on a broad spectrum of pesticides by both the agriculture industry and individual homeowners poses yet another major threat to pollinators. Insecticides affect pollinators directly through unintentional poisonings, and herbicides affect them indirectly through a loss of insect forage and other wildflowers important in maintaining some insect populations. GARDEN PHILOSOPHIES: • Biological Diversity increases Biological Complexity increases Biological Stability • It’s best to keep everything that your garden produces in the garden for as long as possible. Be a greedy gardener but not a tidy one.
• The easiest way to protect pollinator habitat is to leave it alone; do not micromanage the yard. • Look at your Garden from the point of view of where the bee might live and reproduce. • The conservation status of many insect pollinators is not well known. • Pollination interactions are important to maintaining, the vast wealth of biodiversity on our planet. Consequently, pollination is a keystone process in both human-managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems. Without this service, many interconnected species inhabiting, and processes functioning within, an ecosystem would collapse. • Flowers also produce the seeds and fruits that constitute the diets of many animal species. • There is a comparative lack of information on insects, compared to birds or mammals. Insects are by far the largest category of pollinators. Yet, due to their small size and inconspicuous nature, declines in insect species can go unnoticed until they approach local extinction. • LAST NOTES & THINGS YOU CAN DO: • Take an inventory, an Three Dimensional and include seasonal changes for: o Plants – trees, shrubs, flowers as well as nesting and over-wintering sites. • Recognize what you have – protect it – managing and enhancing it. • Dealing with insufficiencies, restoring existing sites • Alter your garden maintenance to reduce disturbances to pollinator habitats • Ask yourself: “How does a bee see your yard?” & “Where are they sleeping?” • Usually the best first thing you can do to help: Increase the available foraging habitat. • THINK: Untilled, not mulched, partially bare ground, woody vegetation o Sun, shade, cold, cool, warm, north vs, south facing o No pesticides At present, there is not enough information available to predict the severity of the ongoing disruption to pollinator activity, yet the potential for significant and irreplaceable losses of biodiversity through cascading extinction is very real. And although the notion of a global disruption in pollination systems is not currently supported by empirical evidence, it is suspected that the well-documented localized declines are symptomatic results of the more wide-scale losses in biological diversity SELECTED BOOK REFERENCES • Xerces Society Books: Attracting Native Pollinators ISBN978-1-60342-695-4 • The Bees In Your Backyard: J. S. Wilson & O. M. Carril, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0691-16077
This information has been compiled from many sources over the years: Questions? Contact me, Richard Little firstname.lastname@example.org
These posts are from Master Gardeners, as well as speakers we have had at various events concerning pollinators. Subscribe to BeeNotes to get this information delivered right to your inbox!