06 October 2016

Help Bumblebees Survive and Thrive

Horticulture Magazine has a new article with ideas for how gardeners can help bumblebees survive and thrive.

This is an important topic as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service added 7 species of bees to the Endangered Species list, providing protection for the bees.

Here are some things the Xerces Society recommends that we all do to help bumblebees in our neighborhoods:
  • Provide them with pollen and nectar from late winter through early fall. Plan your garden to start blooming early and finish late.

  • Choose flowers that welcome the bumblebees. Plants native to your area are a good choice because the bees have evolved alongside them. Exotic (but not invasive) species can work, too. Just be sure to use the straight species, or pick cultivars that retain the general look of the species’s flower. That is, avoid cultivars bred for double petals or other fancy forms that make it hard for the bumblebee to access the pollen.
  • Bumblebees best like purple, blue and yellow flowers. They cannot see the color red.

  • Avoid using pesticides.

  • Help bumblebees, which typically nest underground, overwinter by leaving some ground undisturbed—that is, not planted or mowed. Bumblebees may also take up in compost piles, woodpiles, stone walls or empty bird houses.

  • For more pointers on how to help bumblebees, plus an identification guide and recommended plants by region, see Conserving Bumble Bees by the Xerces Society.

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