Bees and butterflies play a vital role in our ecosystem. They provide us with honey, pollen, and other valuable goods. In return, they receive nectar from plants. The relationship between these two species has existed since ancient times, and their interactions continue today.
But they are now in danger because of our faults. So, it’s our responsibility to do something to protect them. The first and most useful step is to make a garden and attract pollinators to help them out. So, what helps attract pollinators? Read on to find out that.
What helps attract pollinators?
Pollination is a vital part of the food web. Without it, many plants would not be able to reproduce, and we would have fewer species on our planet. The majority of flowering plants rely on insects as their primary pollinator. Some flowers use birds or bats for pollination, but most need bees, butterflies, moths, or other insects. This means that if you want to attract more pollinators into your garden, then you should focus on providing them with food and shelter. Here are some things that will help attract pollinators.
Flowers are an important source of nutrition for all kinds of animals. If you want to attract pollinators, then you should plant a variety of different types of flowers. You can also create habitats where pollinators can live. For example, if you put up a bee hotel, you’ll get lots of bees flying around. It’s very easy for people to forget about flowers when planting their gardens. But a flower isn’t just for humans. Plants like bumblebees, hoverflies, and butterflies love them too.
2. Plant a variety of color
The best way to attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to your yard is to provide a wide range of colorful blooms. If you’re planting a butterfly garden, choose plants that offer a good amount of diversity in terms of size, shape, height, and color. For example, if you want to attract monarchs, try planting milkweed, clover, daisies, sunflowers, and cosmos. Choose a mixture of tall, short, and medium-sized plants.
You’ll also want to make sure there are plenty of clusters of flowers throughout your garden. When it comes to color, try choosing a mix of yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, blues, and whites. These colors are attractive to a broad range of insects.
3. Let your senses be tempted
Flowers are nature’s most beautiful creations. They come in every shape imaginable, and each contains something special. Flowers attract bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, beetles, moths, and even some reptiles and amphibians. But what makes flowers truly unique is the scent they release into the air around them. This scent attracts insects, birds, and mammals alike. And while we humans enjoy the smell of flowers, our pets do too. So why not give them a little treat?
4. Pesticides should not be sprayed.
The number one threat to pollinator health—and the chemicals you want to steer clear of above all else—are neonicotinoids (or neonics). These pesticides are most toxic to bees but are also systemically active. These poisons make it into the entire plant—including pollen and nectar. They are also highly persistent. Neonics remain in the soil long enough to contaminate groundwater.
Neonics are used widely across the globe, including in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Pakistan, Japan, South Africa, and the United States. In fact, the European Union banned neonics altogether in 2013. But despite the ban, farmers continue to use them.
Consider asking your neighbors to ditch them, too. See if you can collectively work together to pass local ordinances limiting their use.
5. Don’t let weeds grow unchecked
Weeds are a big problem for pollinators. Weeds compete with other plants for water, sunlight, nutrients, and space. As a result, they crowd out native flora and prevent it from getting the light, water, and food it needs to survive. A lot of times, this leads to a decline in biodiversity.
If you don’t have any control over weeds growing in your yard or on your property, consider hiring someone who does. Weed removal services will help keep your lawn free of unwanted vegetation.
6. Plant milkweed
The number of monarch butterflies migrating from the United States to Mexico for the winter has decreased from more than 1 billion in 1997 to less than 57 million now. We have changed our agricultural practices, resulting in a 90 percent decline in a short period.
A major change has been the loss of milkweed crops, which serve as monarchs’ only food source and as their nesting plant. Genetically modified crops have eliminated milkweed from large swaths of corn belt breeding grounds, says Fallon. “They have effectively eradicated milkweed from large agricultural fields.” Populations have declined dramatically as a result.”
Plant milkweed from seeds or cuttings to help recoup those numbers. As the fragrance drifts through your windows, you will be doubly rewarded. The monarch butterfly’s migration is already a breathtaking experience. Still, if you happen to see one fluttering by, you’ll know why you did it.
7. Give your backyard habitat a boost.
Your garden may seem like an unlikely place to find wildflowers. Still, many species depend on gardens and yards for survival. Pollinating insects need places with plenty of blooms to visit, so encourage flowering shrubs, perennials, and annuals to bloom throughout the year.
8. Keep your eyes peeled for signs of trouble
As we’ve discussed, not every bee is doing well. If you notice any problems, report them to your local conservation department. It could be that something is going wrong in your environment. Or, it could just be that your hive needs some attention. Either way, it’s important to do what you can to help.
9. Buy honey
Beekeepers around the world are working hard to help their colonies survive. Honeybees are essential to agriculture and the ecosystem. By supporting honeybee populations, you’re helping to support the ecosystems that support us all.
10. Support research into how to save bees
There are many ways to help bees thrive, but no single solution will solve everything. That’s why scientists are conducting studies to figure out what works best for different environments. You can also donate to organizations that research to learn more about bees and their habitats.
What are the most common pollinators?
There are over 20,000 species of bees in the world. The most common bee in North America is the honey bee. Honeybees are not native to North America. European settlers in the 1600s brought them over.
Bees are important pollinators because they collect pollen on their bodies as they move from flower to flower. Pollen sticks to their bodies and is transferred to other flowers, fertilizing them.
Here are the benefits of attracting pollinators:
- Pollinators help increase crop yields.
- They can help improve the quality of fruits and vegetables.
- Attracting pollinators can help support local ecosystems.
- Pollinators are essential for the reproduction of many plant species.
- Bees play a role in the regulation of pests and diseases.
- Bumblebees are good indicators of environmental health.
- Honey bees help control invasive plants.
- Honeybees help control greenhouse gas emissions.
The 11 plants you MUST grow in your pollinator garden
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What structure attracts pollinators?
Petals attract pollinators. But petal-less flowers work too.
2. Why should I grow nectar-producing plants?
Nectar-producing plants produce food for both adult pollinators and young pollinator larvae.
3. Do butterflies get stung when visiting my garden?
Yes. Butterflies usually protect themselves with a defense mechanism called “aposematism.” This means they have warning signals (such as stripes or spots) to warn predators that they taste bad. There are several types of aposematic butterflies. Some are bright yellow and black; others are small and drab.
4. Are bumblebees really beneficial to humans?
Yes. Bumblebees are very helpful to humans. They eat aphids which carry viruses that affect our crops. And they consume pollen and nectar, which provides nutrients for human consumption. They also make great pets.
5. What is a stingless bee?
Stingless bees don’t use stings to defend themselves. Instead, they rely on their mandibles to bite their prey. They are often mistaken for wasps because they look similar.
There are numerous ways to help bees. When we do these things, we directly benefit the environment. We also indirectly benefit the environment through increased crop production. I can assure you that you will have great results if you try out one of the above ways.