Spring is here and our pollinators are hard at work collecting pollen and nectar from the abundance of blooming plants. As a beekeeper, I love walking out in the yard and hearing the happy hum. I particularly enjoy watching the honey bees take flight loaded down with pollen stuffed into the baskets on their hind legs. They dip and sway, but miraculously maintain balance to take off to their hive to store their treasure unconscious of the fact that their numbers are declining in spite of their hard work. I am particularly fond of honey bees, but all pollinators could use our help.
You know, you don’t have to be a beekeeper or a scientist to make a positive impact on these amazing creatures. Start by planting a few bee friendly plants in your yard. I particularly like bee balm and sunflowers, but you can plant smaller annuals like asters or zinnias in containers on your deck or patio. Our Clemson Extension Home & Garden Information Center has a great article on pollinator gardening that lists a large number of plants with nutritious pollen and/or nectar for pollinators: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/pollinator-gardening/
Once you have your plants established, create a water source for the pollinators that come to feed there. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple shallow pie pan filled with pebbles or marbles filled just so that they barely begin to cover the top layer works great. The pebbles keep the bees from drowning as they quench their thirst. Be sure to change the water every couple of days so that you prevent it from becoming filled with mosquito larvae. In my bee yards, I use varying sizes of chicken waterers with the tray filled with pebbles. Providing a constant source of water near the hives helps to lessen the stress of collecting water from a further distance and assists in providing the necessary moisture and temperature for the hives.
As much as I enjoy all of the new growth around me, I certainly don’t enjoy the weeds! I don’t know about you, but it is a constant struggle to keep weeds from taking over in my flower beds and garden. I prefer to mulch heavily and pull my weeds, but many choose to use herbicides and sometimes pesticides, depending on the problem in the lawn or garden. If you choose to use any herbicide or pesticide, let me challenge you to take the time to carefully read and follow each warning label. Most require specific timing and placement in order to avoid hurting our pollinators. A simple adjustment in your application can make the difference between life or death for our valuable pollinators.
If we all collectively do our part to help the pollinators, we will enjoy the buzzing for many years to come!